I feel as though I've been neglecting everyone and everything. My laundry is piling up, the junk mail needs sifting, my friends in Austin probably think I'm dead, and my dog, Maggie, (above) hasn't been walked near enough. When I'm not researching something to teach my literature students or writing an article for the Dallas Morning News or grading essays or (lord help me) Christmas shopping, then I tend to want to spend my spare time reading a magazine or watching bad television (Mary Hart, you smile too much). I need a break so I can get caught up on chores and enjoy a slower-paced existence. The holidays can't come fast enough.