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Road Trip: Vietnamese Sandwiches and St. Augustine

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on July 9, 2015 by lisadiakova

“I think life is better when people can just laugh, instead of getting caught up in I could’ve been this or I could’ve been that.” is what Dick casually said over my shoulder while he added sugar and milk to his coffee. He was flirting with all the pretty women in the shop. “When you get to be my age, you learn all the tricks.” he said to a stranger, as he winked at me.

Two days ago I hit the road, excited to leave Miami behind for a bit and let myself wander through the country. I made a brief stop in Orlando to grab a #1 at Banh mi Nha Trang, a little hole in the wall that came highly recommended from a trusted source. 😉 I arrived two minutes after closing time, crossing my fingers that I could still grab a bite to go. To my surprise, the adorable owner invited me to take a seat and enjoy my meal. “How many?” she asked. Clever woman. “I’ll take two.” I replied. The sandwiches were delicious, and she smiled wide when I told her I raced from Miami to try them.

I continued my journey onto St. Augustine, Florida, a place I’ve passed many times but never visited. It’s always interesting to see the irony that surrounds historical sights—the tourist traps, gift shops, the nonchalance of the locals. Best of all, I enjoy the stripping of romance that we so often attribute to history, as if it were all freshly-pressed period costumes and reunited lovers. I had a chance to tour the Castillo de San Marcos, the resilient sea-side fortress that crowns St. Augustine. The dress I was wearing was light and fresh, but in the hot Florida sun I was sweating buckets. As I sauntered in and out of dusty, stone rooms, I thought about the soldiers bearing the weight of their uniforms, the Indians who were held as prisoners there, the population seeking refuge during times of war. All the bodies. Hunger, Gunpowder.

At 6 am, that morning, I drove to the coast and dipped my feet in the cold Atlantic, while I watched a tangerine sun glow on the ocean waves. I’d been thinking about it since the night before, which was detrimental to my sleep, but well worth it when I finally arrived. Breakfast was pretty good at Café Eleven, where I sketched a little, while sipping Iced Tea.

The shops and restaurants in St. Augustine were charming, but after spending $9 on a small packet of truffle salt at The Spice and Tea Exchange, I forbade myself from entering any others.

I ended my visit by taking a tour of The St. Augustine Distillery, where I had a chance to sample their Gin and Tonic and Moscow Mule. Both were delicious. Everyone at the Distillery was cheery and kind. The place itself was laced with the sweet smell of bourbon aging in Kentucky barrels that were beautifully crafted and displayed. It was like something out of a dream.

St. Augustine Beach

Lisa Diakova Feet

St. Augustine Beach 3

Scramble at Cafe Eleven

Scramble at Cafe Eleven

Lisa Diakova Road Trip Sketch 1

Lisa Diakova Road Trip Sketch 2

Castillo de San Marcos

Castillo de San Marcos

Castillo de San Marcos 2

Fish Tacos and Clam Chowder

Fish Tacos and Clam Chowder at Catch 27

St. Augustine Distillery

St. Augustine Distillery

St. Augustine Distillery

St. Augustine Distillery 2

Banh mi Nha Trang in Orlando

Owner and I

Every Sunrise Is Worth It

Posted in Uncategorized on June 16, 2015 by lisadiakova


I woke up at the crack of dawn, unable to sleep because my mind was in a haze, partly from illness, and partly because I’m stirring. The last few months I’ve been proactive in trying to understand aspects of myself that fall short to my ambitions. I’ve gone to great lengths to uncover those things, which has been a rather painful experience. It’s like shedding a thousand pounds that you can’t even see. You feel raw, exposed, disproportionate.

I’ve done some wonderful things this past year, as well as made many mistakes. And I’m grateful for all of it. But, pain has a way of punching you in the gut as soon as you quit clenching. It all comes rushing back—the heartache, the empty pit, the mundane nuisance of having to go to the damn store, groom yourself. As I watch the sun rise above my neighborhood, I think: Every sunrise is worth it.

One of my best friends died many years ago, and I remember her on days like these. She was a tree-hugger, a green-eyed hippie, a gardener of hearts. She took her life, we were told, though there’s a part of me that never believed it. Sometimes I breathe for her a little. Although there’s a tightness in my chest, there is also fresh air.

In recent months, so many friends have unwittingly said the most magical things to me. Their words built me up, gave me power, gave me enough strength to keep depleting, keep pushing. Then there are the laughs, fun drunken nights, a felt embrace, the scent of Sebastian’s skin. Love is such a potent force. It’s stronger than the dirtiest words, than physical pain, than loss. I look around at people, all brothers and sisters on this crooked family tree, suffering in our own language. The way we deal with pain defines us, influences our choices. Our choices compose our lives.

It’s easy to feel angry when people treat us unfairly, but the option to love them back is so rewarding, so empowering. We sabotage progress by wallowing in hurt egos or fixating on what’s already occurred. Or worse, we pretend. We insulate ourselves under layers and layers, to the point that we no longer feel, because we think not feeling is better than hurting, denying one of life’s most precious gifts. Pain is a frame of reference. If you’ve had the privilege of suffering great loss, it means you’ve also enjoyed the privilege of having something to lose.

Each day we live a little more, which means we die a little more. We can’t have one without the other. Making the choice to fearlessly coddle that thin line is probably the closest thing to living.

The Angels of Our Expectations by John Wood

Posted in Uncategorized on January 5, 2015 by lisadiakova

For some they are probably
handsome young men
smiling widely, as in some bright
photographed moment
once long ago; for others,
tough, demanding women
uncompromising in the rigor
of their wishes; and others,
solid, manly girls who go sweet,
soft in the seclusions of an embrace;
and still for others, perhaps,
a no-longer doddering mix
of mothers all looking alike,
grown young again and more lovely
than all the other women
whose arms ever held their sons.

“‘Carl, Carl,’ they called,” my father said
describing his having nearly died.
“They were burlesque girls, looked like
Sally Rand, but without her fans. I could see
right through their gowns, could see it all
because the light was so bright,
and they were drifting all around me calling
but couldn’t see me. ‘Carl, Carl.’
‘I’m right here,’ I said. But they couldn’t see me.”
And when my mother ran to the door
screaming that he was turning blue,
an orderly picked up a 200 pound oxygen tank
and ran down the hall with it,
and soon Daddy was back in his bed.

This was in 1950, and I was three.
But I heard the story often—
years before the slick God-hucksters
started packaging those ladies and their light,
turning that one last comforting fling
before the brain shuts down for good—
or thinks it’s shutting down—a final
orgasmic flash in the face of extinction
and decay, one more moment
with the angels of our bliss—turning
a last rapture’s gold and glowing grace,
life’s final affirmation,
worthless, turning it into the nightmare
of perpetuation and monotony, worse
even than that shackled stupor
of old Eden…unless, unless
all memory of sense and touch,
that thrill of flesh,
was erased in those high,
terrible hospitals of heaven
where white robes moving
with angelic speed
and knives bright
as the morning star
lobotomized away
all we’d ever loved.

Miami Art Week Begins

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on December 2, 2014 by lisadiakova

I kicked off Miami Art Week by visiting Peter Kappa’s Open Studio, which gave me a chance to see his newest work firsthand. I’m always excited to see Kappa’s new creations. He’s a very real artist–honest, intelligent–and it shows in his work. You can check him out at Here are some pictures.

DSC_1157 DSC_1432DSC_1200DSC_1212DSC_1258DSC_1276 DSC_1341  DSC_1352  DSC_1449DSC_1387DSC_1216DSC_1244

Nascondino, Opening Nov. 15th

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on November 6, 2014 by lisadiakova

Hello Everybody,

I’m excited to share Nascondino, my new collection of artwork.  The opening reception will take place on November 15th at Gallery 212 Miami in the Wynwood Arts District. The address is 2407 NW 2nd Ave. Miami, FL 33127. Come by between 7-9 pm so I can meet you!

Nascondino Flyer Gallery Solo Show Lisa Diakova

Prodigal Poem

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

I seem to lose this poem over and over. I forget its name… I fish through the internet rivers, read dozens of Sharon Olds poems that aren’t “the one.” So I’ve decided to make it a bed here, a place where it can perform a million times–like a senile mind that retells a story each time as though it’s the first.

The Takers
By Sharon Olds

Hitler entered Paris the way my
sister entered my room at night,
sat astride me, squeezed me with her knees,
held her thumbnails to the skin of my wrists and
peed on me, knowing Mother would
never believe my story. It was very
silent, her dim face above me
gleaming in the shadows, the dark gold
smell of her urine spreading through the room, its
heat boiling on my legs, my small
pelvis wet. When the hissing stopped, when the
hole had been scorched in my body, I lay
crisp and charred with shame and felt her
skin glitter in the air, her dark
gold pleasure unfold as he stood over
Napoleon’s tomb and murmured This is the
finest moment of my life

The Company of Books

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on November 23, 2013 by lisadiakova
Keith Haring

Keith Haring (Photo credit: Simonetta Di Zanutto)

I’ve just come up for air after completing a few major projects over the previous weeks. Yesterday was an especially difficult day, and now I sit here resurrected turning to the words in Keith Haring’s journals for new breath.

I am comforted by written words. The very nature of their existence is sweet to me: that they are there… In order. In print. For me to see, for you to see. Plain evidence of thought.

I’ve felt a little isolated the past few days. The wave hit me strong, possibly because I am not completely accustomed to the culture that surrounds me. Or perhaps it is the culture that is just not accustomed to me. I guess that’s normal. I’ve never really been accustomed anywhere, but I feel a little homesick, even though I am supposedly “home.” It’s something I struggle with–the concept of home. Fiona Apple’s words come to mind: “Home is where my habits have a habitat.” I think that home is somewhere inside of me. People peek through the windows when the curtains are drawn. Few have their own key.

Miami is a very emotional city and sometimes it seems I can’t do a darn thing without upsetting the natural order of someone’s life. It’s too much responsibility and at the same time, utter nonsense. It puzzles me, but it happens often, so I’ve stopped caring. I combat this frustration by seeking the company of books. It’s the only thing that makes sense today. A few hours ago I felt like a freak, and now I find comfort in a passage written 35 years ago.

Haring writes:
I am me. I may look like you, but if you take a closer look you will realize that I am nothing like you at all. I am very different. I see things through a completely different perspective because in my life I had experiences that you didn’t have, and I’ve lived places and seen places and experienced life from a completely different point of view than you have. I may be wearing the same shoes and the same haircut, but that gives you no right to have any preconceived notions about what I am or who I am.

You don’t even know me.
You never will.