And another one bites the dust!  So much has happened since I last wrote.  Mostly, the time continues to be filled with insane amounts of homework.  Twice I fell behind and I had a very hard time catching up.  I took the 4th of July off from school.  It felt so good to be home, with friends, even for a few hours.  I will be in Napa next Sunday, the 29th also, for the Vine Village Celebration.  Be there or be square.  The other time was the weekend between our mid-term and our first oral presentation.  There was no homework assigned before we left class on Friday and I did not see the email until Sunday at 11:30 at night.  Just as well, I needed all the time for preparing the oral.  This weekend I negotiated less homework in return for reading Arabic poetry on Monday night.  Still, it is misleading.  If one does not spend every minute writing the next thing due, you are doomed.  In my current class (remember they kicked me out of the first one) one woman transferred to another class, in hopes of getting more help from a different teacher and also had to have an infected wisdom tooth pulled.  Let me tell you, she is tough.  I would have been out for a week minimum.  I don’t think she missed a class.  Our youngest girl lost a lot of time with a bad head injury in class (hit it on a hanging TV).  Our youngest man went to the hospital with heart problems.  Many cry, some have left.  The environment is crushing.  I think this is especially true for those who came here thinking they would learn to speak Arabic.  I have figured that they don’t really teach you anything.  You should have learned it all before class and they provide an environment to practice and check your mistakes.  For the advanced students it is a thriving environment.  As for me, I am progressing, but so very slowly.  My friend, Sharon, sent me another wonderful letter.  In it she wrote her letter in Arabic, but thankfully included the “cheat sheet” translation in a separate sealed envelope.  I was able to read more than half, so that is something.  Every week there is a written test.  I still need to produce a Final Writing Project and Second Oral Presentation.  And, the Final on August 9th.  I am trying to sneak a look at my emails at least once a week.  Please don’t feel bad if I am slow to respond.