Post #2: It was supposed to be Greek
The project I now call That’s So Brazil began life two years ago as Gone Greeking. For two years I looked forward to the day I would turn 60, start learning Greek, and get my Big Fat Greek Adventure off the ground.
At first I kept the idea to myself, but eventually I told a few people. Then a few more. I never doubted that Greek and Greece would work for me. The language seemed suitably challenging, and what’s not to like about feta cheese and ouzo on a cliffside patio in Santorini?
Then came the big day. I opened my husband’s gift—a set of Greek language instruction manuals with nine CDs—and began studying.
By day three, something started to feel wrong, and by day five I just knew.
It’s hard to say why Greek didn’t do it for me. It was difficult, certainly, but then so was Japanese, which I learned at 33. In fact, the U.S. Foreign Service Institute deems Japanese to be the most difficult language for an English speaker to learn, and that didn’t stop me.
All I can say is that Greek was difficult in a different way. Learning Japanese was like landing on Mars. Nothing looked, sounded, or felt the same. But once I accepted the change of planet, I found I could get around after all.
Greek was not Mars, but the rote memorization that lay ahead seemed endless: three genders, four cases, and a bunch of rules no less arbitrary than tax laws. And the writing! Try telling a 60-year-old brain that what looks like a V is actually pronounced N, what looks like an N is an E, and so on. I wanted not only to challenge myself, but to enjoy myself, and I couldn’t see that happening. There was nothing to do but move on to Plan B.
Talk about embarrassed. I had paid for a Gone Greeking blog site! A domain name! From Greek to Portuguese, Greece to Brazil—surely people would find me capricious and random. They would snicker as they waited for me to ditch Portuguese and take up Swahili or Djinang.
Fortunately, my husband was there to remind me that people don’t really care what other people do. They’re too busy having fits about their cell phone bills, deciding which Netflix shows to watch, and wondering what other people think of them. Drew was right, of course. People didn’t snicker, at least not within my earshot.
And I’m happy to report that I won’t be hitting the Swahili or Djinang textbooks anytime soon: Portuguese has stolen my heart. So has Brazil, though I haven’t set foot there yet. Go figure.