Thursday, May 2, 2013

Two-Minute Connection

Sarah Vowell's latest book, Unfamiliar Fishes, is ostensibly about the history of Hawaii, but the first part of it seems to be more about American cultural imperialism in the 19th century, and how WASPy New England missionaries tried to educate the heathen Hawaiians.  As I read [listened to] accounts of the missionary organization that trained Hawaiians and Cherokee on how to spread the Word among their people, I thought, "Holy shit, this book is totally my ex-wife's dissertation!"


I haven't had any contact whatsoever with my ex in more than four years.  She's so far removed from my life right now that I hardly ever think about her, and when I do it's more of an abstract, "Oh, yeah, I used to be married."  In fact, I'm almost to the point where I'm ready to thank her for leaving me, because it allowed me to find someone much better suited to me.  Almost.

My ex's dissertation (which she wrote, I might add, with my emotional and financial support) was about 19th-century missionaries using manual labor schools to educate and "civilize" African Americans, Native Americans, and Hawaiians.  She even went to Hawaii to do some of her research.

I'm researching my dissertation!

So of course I wondered if my ex had read Unfamiliar Fishes.  She has to know about it, right?  Surely someone in her life has read Vowell's book and told her how much it overlaps with her dissertation.

Part of me wants to call a time out and be friends again for like two minutes.  So I can say, "Hey!  Have you read Sarah Vowell's book on Hawaii?  It totally deals with your dissertation!!"  Then she'd say, "Yeah, I know!" Or, "Not exactly, Vowell focuses more on blah blah blah and my dissertation was more yadda yadda yadda."    

And then we'd resume our non-relationship.

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