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  • hknovielli

On Whales and Wrists

It has been a doozy of a year so far. In addition to a calendar that is always too full, my daughter has been involved with every school theater production this year. That means shifting rehearsal schedules and staying late after school.

On top of that, my wrist and hand just never stopped hurting after my thumb surgery in November. I finally went back to the doctor, got a new, rarer diagnosis, and I'm having wrist surgery tomorrow. I can't wait to get it all over with and get back to writing. And not be in pain.

It's been a challenging few months on the writing front. I can't write for long before my wrist hurts too much to keep going. Same for typing for a long period. I've managed to edit a couple short stories I'd forgotten about, so that was nice.

I played around with Word's speech to text function which is weird, but works pretty well. I don't know that I'd use it if I didn't have to, but that's mostly because my brain doesn't work in a way that makes it intuitive and easy. It's nice to know it's a workable option, though.

Mostly I've been reading. A lot. It's all been light, fluffy reads that I can pick up and put down at random. They fit into the hectic schedule and on my Kindle. It's fun, it's happy, it's comfortable.

But I also did a bit of a deep dive into one subject. A while ago, I saw this tweet from Rachel Syme.

I was intrigued by the idea of digging into a topic for a while, for fun. I love to read nonfiction and we watch nature and science documentaries as a family all the time.

My first topic was whales. I read a great book, Leviathan, and at the same time I listened to Moby Dick. I watched some shows, listened to some podcasts, saw endless pictures and videos on Instagram. It was an excellent way to learn a little bit about a topic I've always found interesting.

And Moby Dick... what a book! I know people seem to either love it or hate it. I absolutely love it. Listening to it was perfect, but I'm going to read it too. Gorgeous lines and descriptions would fly past while I was out walking and I want to find them again. I'm not sure it's a book I would have finished or enjoyed if I'd read it in college. But now, it was just perfect, and so beautiful. I can't wait to read it again.

I took notes while I was reading, jotting down things I found interesting or surprising. I learned a lot about whaling from Leviathan. That book dovetailed nicely with the first 40 or so chapters of Moby Dick. A couple of podcasts had some fascinating scientists discussing whales in the Antarctic and the evolution of whales. Overall, it was a great dip into a fun subject with no pressure. Just learning for fun, for the sake of learning.

I pulled some of my favorite notes together and a made a mini zine from one sheet of paper. Feel free to check it out!

Whale zine
Download PDF • 1.60MB

I've chosen my next topic; poison. I have a stack of library books ready to keep me company next week after surgery. Taking notes is going to be harder, but I have lots of little sticky flags that I'll be using until I can jot it all down.

I'm super curious about what other people would choose to dig into for a few months. Animals and nature are the most popular topics when I talk about this with someone. I'd love to know what you'd pick as your first subject.


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