What I used to do

This week, I began reading S. Frederick Starr’s Lost Enlightenment: Central Asia’s Golden Age from the Arab Conquest to Tamerlane, a big thick book (634 pages) I bought in hardback, because reviewers said, don’t buy the Kindle version.

Since the U.S.S.R. fell apart, I’ve become very interested in the nations in Central Asia that were once part of the Soviet Block, and read several books on this subject, including Valerie Hanson’s The Silk Road, John Darwin’s After Tamerlane, Christopher Beckworth’s Empires of the Silk Road: A Hisory of Central Eurasia, and others.

An archeologist affiliated with Johns Hopkins, S. F. Starr wrote a review appearing in the Washington Post last Sunday, for another book on Central Asia, and I thought I would check him out. So far so good, however, what a crazy quilt of languages is this area, which includes Afghanistan.

Recently, in a doctor’s office, I encountered a young woman medical assistant from Turkmenistan.  At first, I thought perhaps she was Spanish, but she soon made me aware of her roots. She seemed pleased that I actually had some vague idea where her country was located.

In case you hadn’t noticed, many Muslim migrants from former Soviet Republics have come to the US since the “fall of the wall.” When I had surgery last year, my nurse was “from Russia with love” as she put it, although it turned out she was really from Romania and thought perhaps I wouldn’t know where it was.


As you grow older and are no longer part of the labor force, you become invisible.  Over the years you lose contact, or your friends and acquaintances die, or they can’t remember anything either.

 I had a memory bubble this week, where I recalled what I used to do long ago…when worked for money. Amazingly, I don’t miss it at all, however, I am grateful for all the kind migrant Muslim medical personnel I encounter these days.

Working for bell, drawing maps, Photo appeared in the Nation's business in 1986

Working for Bell, drawing maps,. This photo appeared in The Nation’s Business in 1986

26 thoughts on “What I used to do

  1. Your reading list really inspires me, though at the moment I am in the middle of several autobiographies. Have just finished “Cut” by Hibo Wardere – all about her experience of FGM as a child in Somalia. Not for the faint-hearted, but gripping and it taught me so much about the psychological aspects. Your own life has been so interesting. I love the photo and all the coloured charts and maps. Keep going, Diannie, you inspire me. Blessings from Dalamory

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ll keep reading as long as I can. Books are wonderful. I assume FGM refers to the experience of some women in certain parts of the world. I read yesterday that the surgery performed in transgender operations is available for some of these unfortunate women. Thank goodness for Western medicine.


  2. I’m with you, Dianne. Retirement beats h out of working. But it is nice once in a while to get a reminder, like your neat photo, of the old days. A few weeks ago, a colleague I hadn’t heard from in 30 years phoned. After that, to my complete surprise, he mailed a gift–a souvenir from a symposium we both had a part in but I did not attend. Nice.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. That is certainly a beautiful photo of beautiful you looking very professional and knowledgeable. I love that streak of gray in your hair then. Your silvery hair now is gorgeous too. I’m sorry you had such a trying time at your job with unenlightened men, but I’m glad you’re able to enjoy retirement now. You are one of the most brilliant bloggers I know.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Attractive young woman hard at work! Remember her? She’s probably still in your head, though — if you’re like me — your body seems to be abandoning your younger version. Your observation about becoming invisible is so true. What you’re reading sounds interesting. I’ve been slowed reading Where Ghosts Walked, but it’s fascinating. If people want to communicate there are many ways without shared words.

    Liked by 1 person

    • 1986, the year that was. My corporation splintered, and I had a miscarriage later that year followed by several surgeries. In the following years, my health went into decline. I gave up a path to becoming a chief executive of some sort and went to work for the federal government. Although at times, I loved being a Civil Servant, I discovered working for the Feds landed me in a male dominated sexist ageist organization I was only too happy to leave 16 years later. Retirement is better.


  5. Great picture. Do you think looking at it, it is another person from another life?…Your reading list always impresses. I read a lot, but my list is more mundane, meaning easier reading!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. You remain delightful and beautiful. Lovely white hair, and they now have a cream for women with thinning hair like both of us. Hope your weight loss continues and you are at that weight again. Give David a hug from us.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Oh my gosh, look at you. So cute and professional. I have a couple of pictures of me taken at work. It amazes me to see myself. I wish I was still that capable sometimes and others I’m glad it is over.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I love that photo and the hairstyle suits you Dianne. Interesting post. I enjoy meeting people from other countries, either in this one or when I am traveling. I once had a conversation with a couple in Austria, we didn’t speak each other’s language but with a lot of sign language and a German/English dictionary, it was one of the best night’s of my vacation. You are a very eclectic reader, I am always interested in your books. This latest one sounds fascinating. I have heard that refrain from my father-in-law about becoming invisible as you get older. It shouldn’t be the case but I can see changes in how people address me even now. Good job there are people like us to put them straight 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Years ago, my youngest son and I spent a New Years evening with a Dutch couple we met by chance in the Netherlands. Neither of them spoke much English. We ate supper, watched Laurel and Hardy films, laughed our heads off, then went outside to enjoy the fireworks at midnight. One of the best evenings ever. Sometimes you just have to be venturesome.


  9. That is a great picture of you at work. Love your hair!

    I like to explore books related to books I’m reading. I am waiting for old copies of autobiographical works by Agatha Christie now since I’ve just read The 8:55 to Baghdad.

    Reading is one of the great pleasures in life. Being retired gives me lots of time to read and learn new things now. I just hope my mind continues as it is and no worse.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Marie. I loved my hair, but what remains is very thin and all white.

      Agatha had one of the best lives. She once said, “The great thing sbout being married to an archologist is the older you get, the more interested in you they become.

      Once when I visited the Met in NYC, I saw an exhibit of photos from her dig in Iraq or what was known as Mesopotamia back then. When I was a teenager, reading her mysteries set in the places she explored, gave me goose bumps. I’ll have to check out her autobiographies. After all, she got me started down this trail in the Middle East.


  10. Good piece on Central Asia. When you read about all the “conquerors” that ran amuck throughout throughout ancient history, it’s a wonder our species survived, It’s not like there was a lot of population to go around back then. Can you imagine what the world population would be right now if these guys, and Hitler and Stalin in more modern times, weren’t ever born?


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