early this morning i went to the cafe to drive my grandmother to the airport. originally my sister was supposed to do it but she made all these demands that it was a lot easier if i just volunteered. when i got there, everyone decided i didn't need to go after all; the main reason i was going was so i could wait in the car so my parents wouldn't have to pay for parking. now that they've decided they will park after all, my service was no longer needed. before they left there was a mini-crisis when we realized my grandmother actually had two pieces of luggage to check in (she arrived with just one); we weren't sure what the rule was regarding a second luggage. since it was too late to do anything about it, my parents figured they'd pay the penalty if any. i then said good-bye to my grandmother as my parents drove her to the airport.

my 80 year old grandmother is my last surviving grandparent. i don't mean to be grim but i wonder if this may be the last time i see her. that's why while she was here i tried to visit as often as possible, almost like i wanted to soak up as much together time as possible for the eventuality when she's no longer here. i asked her a bunch of questions about when she was young, things i never knew before, things my mother never told me. whenever possible i'd take a photo of her, trying to capture the memory. it's rare these days to have people in your life that loves you unconditionally. i liked it when she worries about what i've been eating and then try to sneak food into my bag as i leave. it's a small gesture but it means a lot. who will sneak food into my bag when she's gone? i hope she lives to 100.

from sobering good byes to caribbean celebration: i went down to roxbury today to attend the boston carnival parade. this was my second year, so i knew what to expect, even parking my motorcycle at the exact same place i parked last time.

i got there 30 minutes before the parade was supposed to start at noon, so i could check out some behind-the-scene preparations. standing at the same old spot, i bought a bottle of cold water for $1 and waited for the action to start. approaching 12pm, i was baffled by the lack of activity. walking further down martin luther king boulevard, i realized they modified the parade route and the whole length of the street was the staging ground, with all the action happening at the other end of the street. i quickly scrambled down but little did i realize, these sort of carnival parades never start on time. turns out the parade didn't actually start until an hour later. by then my shirt was sweat-soaked on this 90+ degrees day and i had plenty of opportunity to bake in the sun.

not only was the parade late to start, but it was also disorganized, with crowds of spectators mingling with the carnival marchers, and intermittent stops and starts. however, this didn't really detract from the festivity, and if anything, contributed to the chaotic energy that was surging through the crowd once the colored costumes started coming down the road along with the deafening music. the soca was so loud, at one point i thought my clothes were going to be torn off. i lifted my foot and i could feel the music vibrating out of my sole. i watched a little boy grab his chest, barely able to withstand the sonic assault. by day's end i could barely hear.

i saw some professional photographers there. i've been going to so many parades and festivals this summer, i'm starting to recognize their faces even if they don't know me. pros seem to be rather aloof though (at least in my experience), and i think it's because they see anybody else with a digital SLR as competition or possible wannabes. the people who did welcome me with open arms were the amateur photographers like myself, shaking hands and asking if i got any good shots.

with lax crowd control, it made it difficult to get clean shots without somebody floating into the frame. fortunately i shoot with reckless abandon, in the hopes that maybe one photo might be clear or free of an obstructing body part.

sometimes when i revisit a festival, it's not as exciting the second time around. that however wasn't the case with the carnival parade. even though i knew what to expect this time, there was just so many photo opps, there's just no one way i could've gotten bored.

i went to the corner of the street where normally i could get a sweeping view of the procession, but because the marching was moving so slow, i ended up (impatiently) walking around a lot. my best vantage point was towards the end, when i managed to climb a wall and shoot from up high.

call me a prude, but i'm still sort of shocked that the carnival parade is so hypersexualized. i'm not complaining, but i find myself almost instinctively look the other way when a bevy of scantily clad young women walk down the street. i do admire their confidence: you better have a good body image to prance around in some of these outfits, and i saw more than one ladies who normally would have no business marching in a parade that showcased so much naked flesh. it's not just the costumes though, that's only part of it. there's also the dancing. some of the freaking that were going on even made me blush!

the whole procession took about 2 hours. if i had more stamina i would've followed the parade to the head, but i was tired and hot and just wanted to go home and take a shower. by the time i left, my arms were covered in glitter from inadvertently bumping into the parade marchers. i dropped by my garden to water before coming home. it was surprisingly cool inside my house, or at least the living room; my bedroom was an oven. after i showered, i turned up the AC and ate ice cream while watching the red sox game.

in the evening i went back out again, this time to chinatown to have dinner with alisa and her friend kimberly. the two ladies were swimming at houghton's pond earlier today and were now looking for something to quell their hunger. their train was delayed so i waited for them opposite the chinatown T station. there was some great people watching but unfortunately i didn't have my stealthy coolpix so i didn't get any photos. when they arrived, we ended up going to a vietnamese restaurant (alisa's favorite because it's clean). kimberly told me she used to go to arlington high school (next to belmont) but graduated 8 years after me so we would've never met before. after we parted ways, i went to belmont where i got the front tire of my motorcycle inflated before going home. by now the entire house was warm so i immediately turned on the AC.