I know that there's so much shit happening in the Middle East, but sometimes, I feel like there's just as much shit happening in my life.

Yeah, I know, I'm probably not one to talk. The closest thing I ever heard to bombs was a firecracker Bleaker and I threw on my crazy drunk uncle's lawn (which, by the way, was beautifully executed). We got in a shit load of trouble for that, but we didn't care, it was most definitely worth it. Anyway, I think that I have been through plenty of mental battles the way soldiers are in physical battles. And I gotta stand out and fight against it or I'll just crumble to dust.

Okay so two years before I got knocked up, my step-dad calls our house and my real dad picks up and just goes "mm-hmm. well yeah. ah. well she's like that. Here? I don't see why not. Okay. Good luck with that. Bye."

"what was that about?" I asked.

"your mother's a total loon," he told me.

"well, Dad, she ran away to Arizona with fifty bucks and a baggie of your hair. I don't think she's exactly sane. But what made her particularly loony in this case?" I asked.

"she had kids with that guy, John, in Arizona, remember? Well, one of them is just a baby and John woke up this morning and found out she left. She took that baby, her purse, forty dollars and left," he had a look of pain and pity on his face.

"only forty bucks? She didn't take enough cash, wonder what she does for the extra money..."

"Juno, your mother may be a loon, but she's not a whore."

"that explains why she has three replacement kids with some guy in a trailer park. Poor guy." I honestly felt sorry for John. It felt shitty enough when my mom left me, but he was a grown man and she took his baby.

Dad nodded in agreement, "yeah. He's coming up here to look and raise awareness."

Later that day I called John on my hamburger phone. It rang and rang and bwoop he picked up

"hello?" he had a worried voice, nice but worried.

"hey, Johnny. It's me, the evil step-daughter."

"oh, Julie, right?"

"no, Juno."

"sorry, your mother doesn't talk about you that much," he didn't say it to be cruel, he really was saying sorry for my mom.

"that's nice to know." stupid bitch of a mother!

"well...why did you call me?"

"I just wanted you to know that I know how it feels to be abandoned."

"thanks kid," he sounded like he felt better.

"Juno. And can you tell my mom to stop sending me cactuses on Valentine's Day?"

"will do, Junebug," he said as if he knew me for my whole life, "if you wanna know I'll be in the city park tomorrow, performing. Bye."



So I go to the park to watch John because I figure having a fourteen-year-old fan who gives him a hug must make a dad feel better. When I just turned thirteen, Bleaker's mom was having major problems and started crying, so I gave her a hug saying "chillax Mrs. B. It could be worse." and she just hugged me back with those majorly flabby arms saying "you have no idea!"

Well anyway, so John was singing some lame country song about coming home and another about a kid who grew up not knowing his dad and another about memories of a missing child. I hate the living shit out of country and this just made it worse. But at the end he sang a little poem that sounded like a little kid wrote it:

The lady took the baby

I know she loves the baby

But the baby has a daddy

And his daddy loves him too.

How could she take the baby?

Maybe she's gone crazy.

She won't share!

It's not fair!

There's nothing I can do!

That just made me choke up. Something was begging me to yell out with him and it was saying, you wanna whisper? BULL SHIT! You hate your mother and now she's a baby-snatcher! Be true to your dumb-ass self and yell, dammit!

And so I did.










And I yelled it out again, louder this time.

The next day, thank God for spring break, I was having a slumber party with Leah. But before I left, Dad and my step-mom Bren told me Grandma was staying here.

I know this sounds a little stupid but Grandma is awesome. She gave me my first guitar for Christmas, my hamburger phone for my thirteenth birthday, and an old autographed poster of The Runaways in my Easter basket on Easter '02. She also took me to a Red Hot Chili Peppers (not my favorite but not bad) concert then told me that thing they used to do with the tube socks. And took me to my first rated R movie (and I was only ten years old)! And she promised to get me a tattoo like hers, a pixie on her left shoulder blade.

When she came I hugged her and the first thing she said to me in my room when Dad and Bren weren't there was "so, you wanna get that tattoo?"

"actually, Grandma, I was going to Leah's for the night."

"oh. Well, we have all spring break."

So I went to Leah's place and she was all like "what took so long?"

And so I told her "my grandma came."

"the one who smells like oatmeal and old perfume or the one with the pixie tattoo?"

"the one with the tattoo which reminds me, she's gonna take me to get one just like hers sometime on the break."


The next morning I got up and told Leah's mom that if Bren calls, I'm in the park with Bleaker. I kinda hope that Leah doesn't end up with a guy who gets up early. She's one of those people who look really ugly in the morning.

Well, anyway, Bleaker and I were trying to write a song for our band when my cell phone started ringing. I picked it up. It was Bren.

"yeah, Bren, what is it?"

"Juno, get your ass home, now."

"yeesh, Bren, wake up on the wrong side of the bed much?"


I wanted to tell her I couldn't talk on a cell and ride a bike at the same time, but she knew that was bull shit.

So I got on my bike and asked her what was wrong.

"it's your grandmother," Bren answered, "she died in her sleep."

"Wha-?" I was totally shocked. My feet stopped pedaling. My hands loosely clamped onto my cell and my left handlebar. I stopped breathing. All I heard was my pulse and that crunchy, staticky sound you hear on a phone when the person on the other end takes a deep breath.

To this day, I still can't believe this happened; I hit a tree with my right shoulder and front wheel. "oomph"

"what the hell, Junebug? You okay?" Bren asked.

"yeah, but my bike is totally bashed, I'm taking the bus."

"well hurry!" then she started to whisper, "your father really needs you"

That would make sense, Grandma was his mom.

By the time I got home I was crying my eyes out. And when I came home I hugged my dad saying "Grandma can't be dead, she was supposed to get me a tattoo. A pixie tattoo on my shoulder blade like hers."

And Dad just hugged me back the way dads do. "I know Junebug, I know."

I realized I was acting like a five-year-old but I didn't give a shit.

That night, when I was real tired and had to get some sleep, I went up to my room. Some of Grandma's stuff was still there, so I put her watch and shoes on. Her dentures were still in a glass of water so I spent fifteen minutes tapping it, watching the fake teeth bob up and down. It must have been three in the morning when I finally fell asleep.

In my dream I was in the park and Grandma was right next to me. Without knowing it, I started to cry when I was hugging her.

She patted me on the back going "sh...sh...it's alright, everything's okay. Remember now, I got to live for eighty-six years, you don't have to cry for me. Now I need you to stop grieving for me so I can go to Heaven. And, for a man his age, your grandpa was cute when he passed!" she tilted my head up a little, "smile some, Junebug. Be tough. You know, your father thinks you get your voice from me. So sing your beautiful music because I'm singing with you."

When I woke up I looked for (and found) a photo of her. I got a copy of it and cut her out. I bent the paper Grandma so she looked like she was sitting down. I taped a pair of paper angel wings to her back and taped her to a cardboard boat and I let it float on a river. "bye, Grandma"

John was performing again so I came and told him that Grandma died.

And with John's pity, I decided to write him another poem.

Using a pen Grandma gave me, I jotted down what came to mind.

Little bitty baby

So far away

We hope that you

Can come home soon

When we're not together

Now or ever

Always remember

I love you

It looked perfect. I gave it to John and he played it, surprisingly not as country but as an anti-folk thing, like I imagined.

Little bitty baby

So far away

We hope that you

Can come home soon

When we're not together

Now or ever

Always remember

I love you.

I gave John a wadded up t-shirt to give to his baby when Mom stopped being such an idiot and came back with him. He un-wadded it and started to smile. I figured he would; I wanted to make it special so I used a huge Sharpie and wrote "Juno McGruff loves me"

"thanks, Juno"