My Public Apology to Mark

Dear Mark,

You're a good guy. Very patient. Thank you for listening to my existential mid-life crisis (your words) crap. I'm sorry I can be such an insecure freaking mess.

Pulling myself up by my bootstraps and getting on with it,


My Public Apology to Saegertown, PA

Dear Borough Leaders,

I'm sorry I stole one of your street signs back in 1990. Sure, I could blame peer pressure, the recklessness of youth, etc, but really the fault is mine.

I was driving around with my ex-boyfriend and one of his friends (Hi, Tony! Hi, Geoff!). I don't even remember where we were coming from. But, I do know I didn't want to just drop them off and end the evening. I was still in the Denial Phase of the ex-boyfriend situation. That phase lasted almost as long as the relationship did, come to think of it.

Anyway, I was driving my parents' car, and my Dad, Mister Super Boy Scout that he is, always has a tool kit and other just-in-case stuff in the car. I think Geoff might have noticed the tool kit under the front seat and commented on it. I'm embarrassed to admit that I think it was my idea to use the tools to take some street signs. I wanted to seem like more of a trouble-seeking fun girl than the teacher's pet, goody-goody I really was.

We drove all around southern Erie and northern Crawford counties, looking for good prospects. You know -- interesting sign, busted street light, isolated country road.... We got our routine down to a well-drilled sign-stealing system. We'd drive by, discuss the prospects of a given opportunity for about another half-mile, I'd make a U-turn and we'd pull up to the sign. After I'd stopped the car, the guys would jump out with the tools, and I'd run around back and pop the trunk. They'd double-team the nuts and bolts (which we'd thriftily screw back onto the sign posts). They'd throw the sign in the trunk, and I'd already be back behind the wheel ready to speed away (without looking like we were speeding away ... you know ... flying casual). We could have evolved into the Bonnie and Clyde ... and Clyde of Northwestern Pennsylvania.

At one point, Tony had a couple of decent-sized signs, and Geoff was trying to disassemble one of those orange-striped warning barrier thingies. He really just wanted the big blinker light assembly off the top of it. At some point he gave up and we helpfully placed it over a pothole.

We really wanted one of the No Skateboarding on the Sidewalk signs we saw, but (alas!) they were all in well-traveled, well-lit areas.

Eventually, the guys noticed that I didn't have any souvenirs for the evening and started egging me on to pick something out. I reminded them that my parents would freak if I walked in with a big ol' street sign. I had to have something that would fit in my purse. (Granted, it was a giant 80s purse, so there was some leeway there.)

I have to admit that before this little episode of hooliganism, I never fully realized just how large street signs are. I had no idea that stop signs are almost 30-inches across. I mean, I get it that visibility is important. But, these things are BIG. And heavy.

Well, long story short, I wound up with a small street sign. The smallest one we could find, in fact. We especially liked its slightly salacious wording.

It graced my college dorm room for years. I perched it on a windowsill near my desk when I got my own apartment. In fact, I still have it. It's sitting not 18 inches from my left elbow. At some point my children will notice that it's a street sign and ask where I got it. Thus will begin another in what will undoubtedly be a long line of do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do lessons.

In any case, please accept this apology. If you want, I could send you the $10.95 to replace it.



My Public Apology to the Roman Gods

Dear Jupiter, Mars, Venus, Juno, et al,

I'm sorry, but you don't impress me all that much.

The Greek gods just seem way cooler than you do. They have far more interesting names (Zeus, Area, Aphrodite, Hera ...), and because of someone's idea of naming the planets in our solar system after you, well ... your names just aren't all that recognizable as your own names.

I mean, when I hear the word "Mars," my first thought is something like this:

Not you:

I recognize that's not really your own fault, but well, common knowledge of our day makes you seem kind of like you copied the planet names and tried to horn in on their notoriety. Every first grader learns the names of the planets, but by the time we hit mythology in middle school? You just seem like copy cats.

Speaking of copying, what's with essentially stealing all your good stories from the Greeks? You Roman gods started out rather generic, with no cool adventures to claim as your own. But then your Roman worshipers discovered the awesomeness that is Greek mythology and decided to just give your names to their characters and run with it. Zeus disguises himself as an eagle and seduces Earth chicks .... voila! Jupiter disguises himself as an eagle and gets it on with his own mortal babes.

I'm sorry, but I just don't respect you for that. Go out and do your own thing, for crying out loud! C'mon, Jupiter, disguise yourself as a wolf or a bear or GQ model or something and wreak some original havoc.

"But it's not our fault," I hear you whine, "Our followers did this to us. We were just minding our own business." Not buying it. You're freaking gods. Stay on top of your game, folks. Keep a more omniscient ear on what people are saying about you.

Sorry, Roman pantheon (dang, even that word is Greek and not Roman), I'm just not impressed.



My Public Apology to My Cat

Dear Dottie,

You're totally getting short shrift from me lately. Lately being, oh say ... the last three years. Ever since Sasha arrived in my life.

Let me start by saying that for the first 35 years of my life, I'd always been a cat person. As a girl, I loved our family cat and could honestly take or leave the dog. I would entice the cat into my room so she'd sleep with me. I relished knowing that my bed soon became her favorite place to sleep.

And, you should know that in my adult life, we've always had cats. Franklin, the fluffy orange tabby. Frederick, the overweight bullseye tabby. Zoe, the neurotic and paranoid and freakish pale grey tabby. And now you. our quasi-tortoiseshell tabby with the orange forehead dot.

You slept on our bed; you cuddled with us on the couch; you wound around my legs while I cooked. But not anymore. Not much anyway. You're just not comfortable with the dog. You avoid her areas of the house. I get it. She's rather exuberant with wanting to be your absolutely bestest friend in the universe. She doesn't take a swat in the nose for an answer. She keeps trying to get to know you better, whining and wiggling at you whenever she sees you.

It may not work on you, but it sure has worked on me. Sasha's wiggled her way into my heart. I trained her, housebroke her, took her for hundreds upon hundreds of miles of walks. She listens to me best and is, frankly, my dog. I've never had a my dog before. I didn't realize what that was like. I had no idea.

Dottie, you're a terrific and wonderful cat, but your charms are nothing on the deep and abiding affection of a well-behaved, intelligent dog. I love you, cat, and all the half-eaten, disemboweled gifts I find in my bare feet at least once a week. Honestly, I appreciate the thought. But, I have to be frank. You fill a smaller wedge in the pie chart of my heart than you used to.

Don't miss me too much. Emily is thrilled that you sleep on her bed every night, and I know she's a cat person because of it. She's all yours.

In any case, please accept my sincere apology,


My Public Apology to People I Call/Text When I'm Walking

Dear Friends and Family (except my Mom, because she kinda likes it),

I know it's hard to hear me when I'm walking along and the wind and passing trucks make giant whooshing noises into my Bluetooth. I know I don't always have all that much to say and that I'm basically looking for a walking buddy. I know.

I like walking, but it gets boring. And lonely.

But that's not your fault, nor your problem. I'll try to refrain more.

I'm sorry,


My Public Apology to My Maiden Name

Dear Schierer,

OK, so I was wrong about you. Schierer. S-C-H-I-E-R-E-R. Schierer. Pronounced roughly "sheer," but with maybe the tiniest extra "r" at the end. "Sheerr."

Not "shire" or "sheer-er" or as printed on my sophomore year book, "Schlerer." Certainly not "SHRY-er" or "SHRY-rer-rer."

I honestly used to blame you. That you were just a difficult and complicated name. That your Germanic ethnicity and redundant final letter pair confused people.

Now I realize it's not your fault. People just don't pay attention to name pronunciation conventions. People just don't try. Nor do they ask for help when uncertain.

When I married, I gladly traded you in for the simple and vastly more common, "Dugan." Heck, Dugan ranks in the top 1600 most common names in the U.S. (Whereas Schierer comes in around 58,000, with only 329 occurrences in the entire 2000 U.S. Census. I'm probably related to all of them.) The surname even has its own Wikipedia entry. Short, sweet, simple. DOO-gun.

I figured the days of telemarketers mispronouncing my name on the phone were behind me forever.

I figured wrong. Oh, so wrong.

We regularly get calls for the DUGG-uns, DURG-uns, DOWG-uns, even duh-GANS. Callers even add extra syllables, asking for the "O' DOOG-uns." And that's just the phone mistakes. Junk mail and spam e-mail folks seem to think it's not even our last name. My son has received things addressing him as "Mr. Dugan Matthews." Not a bad-sounding name, I have to admit, but wrong, wrong, wrong.

So, Schierer ... I realize it's not your fault. I was way to eager to shed you for a simpler name. It honestly never occurred to me that it wasn't you, it was everyone else.

My apologies,


My Public Apology to Jogging

Dear Jogging,

I try to like you. I know you are a great form of exercise, that you would get my heart pumping and my blood flowing and all that. I know I could get just as much if not more work-out out of my work-out in substantially less time if I employed you instead of your more plebeian sibling, walking.

But I just don't like you. I don't like the way my thighs jiggle when I jog. Believe me, I understand that if I jogged more my thighs and belly and countless other jiggly spots on my body would firm up and solve this problem. But, I just can't seem to get past it long enough for that to happen.

And, maybe it's a lack of appropriately athletically supportive foundation garments, but I absolutely loathe the more than a little painful jouncy feeling you elicit in my chest. I mean, I'm no Dolly Parton, but yeesh -- give a girl a break. I shouldn't have to wrap myself in Ace bandages to comfortably perform an activity.

Don't get me wrong, I try to like you; I really do. I envision myself crossing the finish line of a marathon, exhausted but exhilarated after 26.2 miles of slow but steady jogging. I picture myself in the ranks of fellow joggers, passing on the shoulders of neighborhood roads, nodding slightly out of breath, but my aren't we getting in shape? greetings to one another. Visualization doesn't seem to work in this case, though. I just can't shake disliking you.

I walk as fast as I possibly can without breaking into a jog. I start to employ that exaggerated sport-walking gait, a la Cary Grant in Walk, Don't Run, but like a good sulky racer, I refuse to break stride.

So, sorry, jogging. I know you're a good form of exercise and I know you have many adherents, but I'll never, ever be one of them. Don't hold it against me, all right?