Archive for the Life Category

Reblog: Being A Girl: A Brief Personal History of Violence

Posted in Life, Stuff I Find On the Internet on December 14, 2015 by lisadiakova

SILLY WABBIT Print Shop Diakova

The irony and honesty of this blog entry by Anne Theriault really hits home for me. A few weeks back I was talking to some friends, and I realized basically every single woman I know has a personal story about being unknowingly drugged and/or sexually assaulted. Many women brush off social inequalities as normal, just something we have to endure.

No, that’s not good enough. That will never be good enough.

http://bellejar.ca/2015/12/03/being-a-girl-a-brief-personal-history-of-violence/

Road Trip: Winston-Salem, Charlottesville, Washington DC, Philadelphia

Posted in Art, Life with tags , , , , , , , , on August 6, 2015 by lisadiakova

The drive to Winston-Salem was so peaceful. North Carolina has such an impressive landscape. Surrounded by mountains and pastoral scenery, I wanted to pull aside every few minutes, but I was trying to reach my aunt’s house at a reasonable time. I did manage to sneak in a short detour through the little town of Marshall and snap some pictures.

I am somewhat regretful that I have not sooner had occasion to put my feelings into words about the time spent with family in Winston-Salem. I was only there two nights, but it was a wonderful moment to be around loved ones at that point in my trip. I had great chats with my aunt about life, family, traveling. She is such an admirable woman, and I told her as much. She’s full of life, protective of her family but not unreasonable or overbearing. She’s well-traveled, intelligent, integral. In the short time I was there, we laughed so much and so hard. Family—it’s that word you overlook until you feel the full force of what it means to be connected to your tribe. People who love you in the purest form, without motive.

On Sunday morning, I stopped in Winston-Salem’s Historic District, Old Salem, which provides a lovely glimpse into a Moravian Settlement. The old houses and shops were all labelled, for example: Third House 1767. The streets were practically empty, perfect for taking pictures. I also came across an artist who was painting outdoors. Just as I was leaving, the old Tavern opened up for brunch. I couldn’t resist.

My next stop was Charlottesville. I was a bit spent when I arrived so I stopped at Pen Park, which has some wonderful views. I hopped in the back of my car for a bit, and fell asleep to Portishead. When I awoke, all I could think about was food, so I took a walk through the city center. Most places were closed, a confirmation that this little night owl could never live in Charlottesville, no matter how charming it is. I walked past the Jefferson Theater, which announced Matisyahu was playing in a few hours. I bought myself a ticket and headed to a little French place to try some scallops and a watermelon sangria. The concert was so so much fun. I danced the night away, had a few too many beers then stopped at a late night bar for some antipasti and a cocktail.

The following day, I drove to Washington D.C. After spending some time nestled in the mountains, the big city pace affected me right away. A little more stress. Issues with parking. Stairs. Rubbing shoulders with strangers. Options, options. I didn’t eat that night. Didn’t feel like eating. I just wanted water, a shower, and sleep. The following day, I visited the National Mall and then went on to Arlington Cemetery. There are no words for the intensity of mixed feelings brought on by Arlington Cemetery. A picturesque landscape of rolling hills, manicured trees, cherry blossoms, and hundreds of thousands of elegant tombstones placed in neat rows like dominoes. I walked and I walked and I walked among headstones. Overwhelmed at times, tears came and went as they pleased. That day, I made a friend, a young man from Scotland named Craeg, we shared a few meals, including “a real American burger” as he put it, way too much dessert, and later I introduced him to ceviche. I also met a pair of German twins who were traveling the East Coast by bus, and because I have a fascination with twins, I asked to take their picture. They told me they had been to a baseball game where they met two other sets of twins, and promised to send me the photograph. On my way out of DC, I had every intention of visiting the National Art Gallery, but something felt really off, I couldn’t find parking, I dodged a few accidents. Detours and traffic everywhere. It was one of those days that felt like everything had been inched out of place. I wasn’t having it, so I decided to visit Art Whino instead, a low-brow gallery in National Harbor, where I met yet another pair of twins—two talented young men working at the gallery, who were also kind enough to let me take their picture.

On my way to Philadelphia, I decided to pull aside for a bit. I had to be in New York City the following evening to meet up with a friend, and also pick up Sebastian at JFK. I didn’t want to waste a lot of time but I had no idea where I was going, so I stopped by a drive-thru to grab a quick bite and gather myself. The guy at the window asked three times to confirm my order and got it wrong anyway. No big deal, I went back to the window, he apologized, and then politely asked if I was single and perhaps might want to go out with him that night. A first for me. I had never been asked out at a drive-thru window. Gutsy, but sweet. “I had to ask,” he said.

I decided to book a cheap room in an old mansion tucked away on the outskirts of Philly. Some of the housemates invited me to roast marshmallows over a fire that night, which sounded really appealing, but instead I read a book and fell asleep. The next morning I had a quick breakfast, met some nice girls from France, Saint-Martin, and Spain. Everyone was on their way to New York City. I drove into Philadelphia, and spent the day at The Mütter Museum, analyzing specimens, sketching malformations and other odd things.

Marshall:

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Winston-Salem:

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Charlottesville:

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Washington DC:

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Washington DC (Arlington Cemetery):

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Washington DC (Twins):

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Philadelphia:

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Road Trip: Charlotte and Asheville

Posted in Art, Life with tags , , , , , , , on July 20, 2015 by lisadiakova

I drove into Charlotte late in the afternoon and roamed aimlessly around downtown, then the suburbs, when my car kindly reminded me that I had about 5 miles of gas left. My energy was a bit low as well. After filling up the tank I hit up a Barnes and Noble to create a plan for the following day. The U.S. National Whitewater Center was close by and I figured my beer-abused, sleep-deprived body could use some exercise.

Some of the houses in Charlotte are really impressive, at certain angles they kind of take your breath away. The next morning I snapped a few pics but could not capture the feeling, so I gave up and headed to the Whitewater center, where I worked my butt off rafting, zip-lining, and balancing on the ropes courses. I wonder if there’s a word for that—the frustration of not being able to capture something in a picture? Perhaps Germans have a word. Germans have a word for everything, my favorite being “Backpfeifengesicht” which means a face that needs to be punched/slapped. Ever met someone with a face you really want to punch for no reason? Nope, not me. Never. 🙂

I was excited to visit Asheville, because my friend in Savannah said I’d love it, and every person to whom I mentioned Asheville, had great things to say. To make a long story short, I was supposed to stay there two nights, and I ended up staying for five. Asheville is a kind of Bohemian paradise. It has more breweries per capita than any other U.S. city. There is a shortage of jobs, so the people who live there are often severely over-qualified for the work they do, which makes for interesting conversation. On any given day, you’ll find some really great music being played on the streets. The restaurants and shops are engaging in their design and products. The antique stores are pretty massive, and I didn’t think it could happen, but I found a doll that was too creepy even for me.

The city seems to have a little bit of everything you could want, and the options are well executed. I met some really incredible people in Asheville… motorcycle aficionados, nature enthusiasts, college students taking an epic road trip, musicians in town for a handpan gathering, even an Aussie who refused to go any place where he’d have to wear shoes.

Asheville is surrounded by mountains so there are many options for hiking, outdoor sports, nature studies… On my way out of Asheville, I decided to stop at the Hot Springs Resort, where I soaked in an outdoor tub filled with natural spring water while observing the encompassing landscape. A few spiders here and there, but worth facing my fears. I’m not too keen on spiders.

The entire time I was in Asheville, I felt comfortable and inspired. I didn’t have much of an urge to do anything touristy. I just enjoyed the regular rhythms of the city and its people. Everyone I encountered had their own peculiar story about Asheville, a woman in a fairy outfit, a man dressed as a nun while sipping beer out of a car window, a lady who actively protests circumcision (Oh, yes. She incorporates signs and other visuals)… One afternoon, I stepped outside to find a gathering of models and photographers. I was informed it was a Fash Mob. It’s like a flash mob but for industry professionals, so models and photographers meet each other on the street and take spontaneous pics. Asheville is odd in all the right ways. I saw something that read, “If you are too weird for Asheville, you are too weird.” That’s a pretty fair assessment.

Charlotte:

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U.S. National Whitewater Center:

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Asheville, NC:

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Road Trip: Savannah and Charleston

Posted in Art, Life with tags , , , , , , , on July 13, 2015 by lisadiakova

I started this entry in Charlotte, NC, after I left Charleston, SC, and now I’m finishing it in Asheville. It’s kinda hard to write on the road. When I depart a place, I usually drive in silence meditating on my experiences, and when I arrive somewhere new, my anxious little heart wants to see and taste everything.

A friend of mine was kind enough to let me crash on her couch for a night in Savannah, GA, while she studied for med school exams. We chatted a little about our travels, and I had some playtime with my ol’ buddy Xander the cat. He’s the only cat I’ve ever loved.

Savannah is one of my favorite retreats. It has a small town European feel, with ornate design features on the homes, flowers blooming everywhere, elegant park squares, and a riverfront with pretty views. I love it so much I almost prefer not to share it, but I’ll make an effort to be a good human being. 🙂 So, here are some pictures of Savannah:

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The funny thing is that Savannah and Charleston seem to have this weird rivalry. I’ve been told on more than one occasion that Savannah is dirty in comparison to Charleston, which is often described as Savannah’s rich older sister. So, I’d been curious about Charleston for a while and finally took the time to visit.

My first afternoon in Charleston, South Carolina, I arrived with a massive appetite. Someone told me to head to King Street, so I walked a bit looking for a place to fill my gut. The bars and restaurants were still a bit empty. I checked out two places with decent menus but for some reason decided to keep walking. I came upon a little gray sign that read: Smoke BBQ. The restaurant front was small and had a menu posted on the window. As I approached, a young man with a long beard stepped outside for a cigarette break. “I’ll buy you a shot if you come in,” he said. I laughed. He introduced himself as Russell and briefly told me about their great selection of food, which included a 16-hour smoked pastrami. That sold me.

He treated me to a Honey Whiskey concoction that they make in-house. I am not a Whiskey drinker, but it was really tasty. He explained that it was their response to Fireball, which has become quite popular, but according to him, has terrible ingredients. I ordered the Pastrami Reuben with a side of Grits and Hash. The meal was superb. I tried a few more drinks, shared some laughs with the locals, and had to decline a drunken, albeit, very cute, marriage proposal with a college ring so large it slipped right over my wedding band.

The following morning, I had a late breakfast at Sunrise Bistro Xpress, which I whole-heartedly recommend. The food is fresh. The staff is attentive. Just don’t order a cappuccino, ‘cause it’s on the menu, but let’s just say it’s not quite a cappuccino, more of a foamed latte. I’m pretty low maintenance most of the time, but NOT when it comes to espresso. I can thank my friend Rachel for that. She ruined me for life. Kisses.

While driving around downtown Charleston, I couldn’t help falling in love with the architecture, cobblestone streets, vine-covered walls, antebellum mansions. I visited Waterfront Park, where children were having a fabulous time pressing their faces as close as possible to the fountain spouts so water would splash in massive spurts all around them. I caught one boy hiding under the waterfall of the lower level of the fountain. I followed my visit to the park with a little gallery-hopping, there were so many good galleries to see so I wandered. On the verge of committing suicide by way of heat exhaustion, I stopped in at Bakehouse for a Frozen Mint Lemonade.

Savannah and Charleston are two very different cities. While I can see the similarities, downtown Savannah feels quaint, its main attractions are the parks and riverfront. You can basically walk the whole place in a day. Charleston is large and more urban. Everything feels a bit bigger, more spaced out. However, I just had a conversation with a nice guy in Asheville about this and he says he always thought Savannah felt so large, and he used to live in Charleston. Lol, the debate continues. As far as cleanliness goes, I’ve spent most of my life in New York and Miami, I’ve seen and smelled some ungodly things… So, I guess I am not the right person to ask.

On my way out of Charleston, I visited Folly Beach, where I did some light reading and dipped my toes in the ocean. A few surfers were trying to ride the short waves. Families were getting settled in. Children were freely splashing in the water with that kind of freedom only children have. The water felt so nice I couldn’t resist. That first jump into the ocean is always a baptism, a submersion into something so much greater than myself, something I could never, would never think to try to control. How often does that happen? Nirvana.

Pastrami Reuben at Smoke BBQ

Pastrami Reuben at Smoke BBQ

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Russell

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Art by Cynthia Tollesfrud

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Art by Nathan Durfee

Art by Joshua Flint

Art by Joshua Flint

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Emily Wells

Posted in Life with tags , , , , on November 26, 2014 by lisadiakova

Feelin’ so musical. I think it’s the weather. Emily Wells, I love this woman.

Steak and Eggs

Posted in Life with tags , , , , , , on November 24, 2014 by lisadiakova

The Steak and Eggs I’m having for brunch are so good I almost want to take a picture. I want to idolize this meal and put it on display to convey the experience. But nothing I can say or show you will make you understand the significance of this particular thing within the context of my reality today. I can help you imagine the breezes swaying in from the ocean a block away. I can describe the tourists in their airy clothing, with their huge beach bags, and adorable children. I can tell you about the bodies… all these beautiful nearly naked bodies glistening in the warm Miami sun. I want you to be here. To taste this. But you are not, and therefore the experience is my own. You can’t have it.

Lately, I’ve been disturbed by how many people I’ve encountered who are unhappy with their lives. Judging from the outside it seems like such an easy fix – to change, to make decisions that lead to new experiences. But when you’re in it, living it, the fear, if left untended, can consume every part of you, until you become something unrecognizable – a soft-spirited pile of mush that melts when put under pressure. It takes courage to be your truest self. It takes sacrifice, sometimes the kind of sacrifice that makes you want to scratch your eyes out. You can’t please everyone you encounter on your way, especially the nice ones, the ones who love you. It takes honesty. A person must face the animal inside if that creature is to evolve, to create, to succeed.

Honesty is such a difficult thing. People hold on to these ideas of themselves. They take pictures to portray the life they choose to share. No one sees the mold growing in the gaps, the crying babies, the dishes in the sink, the headaches, the talks of money… the bottom of the well. Most people don’t really want to see themselves. They don’t look inward long enough to realize the ugliness of it all, the beauty, the despair, the overwhelming love, the emptiness, the blessings… the juxtaposition of all the light and every bit of dark.

It frightens me that we seem to get further from enlightenment. We sacrifice our experiences to market an idea of ourselves. This is not to say that there is anything wrong with sharing the best image of yourself. The danger is in how much time we dedicate to this act of selling. If we lose ownership of our own experiences, we surrender our understanding of them, our perception of the world.

All this preamble, to accurately express what a wonderful weekend I’ve had on the beach, alone with my thoughts… how grateful I am for the life that I have, but above all, just how intensely I’ve enjoyed this meal. A picture just wouldn’t do it justice.

Lisa Diakova_Nascondino_Thirst Close-Up

Prosecco

Posted in Life with tags , , , on October 23, 2014 by lisadiakova

One of my oldest friends shows up at my house last night at 12:45 am. She comes through the door with a bottle of chilled Prosecco, talking about Bukowski. She says, “It feels like I fucked him in another life.”

“I’m glad you’re enjoying him.” I tell her.

While I paint, we talk and drink. The wine goes down easy, so we uncork another bottle from my collection. The stuff she says to me makes me cry, makes me cringe, makes my belly ache with laughter. It’s like rolling in a pile of dry leaves, popping the pockets of air in bubble wrap, smashing an empty beer can underfoot. It’s like that moment when you realize you could have died, really died, so you laugh so hard it becomes madness.

Later she reads me some of her poems. There’s a bite to her writing that I really dig. It’s raw. It meanders. It kicks. Just like her. I tell her she’s a wild horse, not the most original metaphor, but I’m 5 glasses in and that last bit of creativity is siphoned toward the hand still holding a paintbrush.

At 5 am, three bottles later and depleted of energy, we take a walk around my block to get some fresh air. I wear a long dress that drags along a street that’s freshly rained on. The night is humid, warm, maternal. We want to stay in it, breathe it in, live in it. I want to lie on the street, but everything is wet so we sit in my car and doze off.

This morning we wake up to the revelation that somehow she’s made it onto the sofa, and I am in bed spooning a handsome, six-foot German.