had i seen my roommate this morning, i might've invited her to the dominican parade happening in jamaica plain today. but it was good that i didn't because 1) i'd get to ride the motorcycle into boston (much faster than public transportation), and 2) i could swing by chinatown afterwards and do some shopping. so i left around 11:00, google map ETA at less than 30 minutes, for the parade that would start at noontime.

i'd been to the dominican parade one other time back in 2007. as far as parades go, it's a modest procession lasting roughly half an hour. from beacon-hampshire in cambridge in took the windsor street shortcut to get onto mass ave and across the MIT bridge into boston. continuing on mass ave, i turned onto columbus avenue and continued straight until i arrived in jamaica plain i parked on the same street as i did the first time around, sunnyside off of centre. i then walked down to jackson square T station to wait for the parade to come down the street. the weather was excellent, sunny but not too hot.

the dominican parade always begins with the cavalcade of youth majorettes. they're flanked by proud parents, who are either taking videos and photos, or picking up dropped batons.

i'd heard one year dominican slugger david ortiz marched in the parade. this year's celebrity was governor deval patrick, who probably had ulterior motives besides an overriding love for dominicans (he's up for re-election). being a parade, there were a few other politicians. MA state senator sonia chang-diaz, whom i often see at these events, and even said on her facebook page, "come join us at the parade!," didn't show up but instead sent a small contingency of young volunteers.

this year's parade lacked the live music and the marching bands. instead, we had minivans outfitted with speakers pumping out danceable caribbean music. there was also the convoy of cars with flag-waving dominican girls popping out of moon roofs and windows. remember the good old days when people used to march in parades? of course it's probably no fun walking all to franklin park in heels.

even though the parade was over, people were still hanging out on their stoops and street corners. i walked back to my bike. because the eastern half of centre street was still blocked off, i took a circuitous route through some small residential streets to get onto heath then columbus avenue. from there it was a straight shot northeast up columbus then tremont street, through the south end, until i arrived at chinatown.

my mother had a craving for longans so i went to the c-mart on washington street (formerly super 88) to see if they had any. i parked illegally at a "no standing" area across the street, figuring i'd quickly pick up some longans if they had any and be right out. what i wasn't expecting to see was how crowded the place was, with every checkout aisle several full-loaded shopping carts deep. i saw they had longans for $10 for 3 lbs. not only that, but a delivery guy was bringing in some more boxes of fresh ones. figuring i was safe from them running out, i hurriedly went back outside to park the bike in a more legal spot (on traveler street) then returned to the supermarket. it took me maybe 5-7 minutes, but by the time i got back, the longans were almost all sold out! i grabbed what was left, and ended up taking away almost 9 lbs worth. standing in line waiting to pay, i noticed almost every customer had a bag of longans in their shopping cart. back outside i was faced with a new challenge. originally i figured i could put all the longans into my camera bag, but i didn't expect to buy so much. even if i took everything out, it still wouldn't fit inside the bag. fortunately i had the foresight to bring along my bungee netting. fitted with 6 rubberized hooks, i strapped the bag of longans to the back of the bike. i was worried it might fall off and kept on looking back, but that was probably the most secure thing on the bike.

not yet 2:00, i went home briefly to pick up my laptop then headed over to belmont. my roommate was home but still secluded in her room and i didn't want to disturb her so i left without letting her know i wouldn't be back until later in the evening.

i got back about the same time as my parents. they called me earlier while i was still on the bike asking if i wanted to go to chinatown, which is ironic, i since i was just coming back from there. they still had to go, and i tagged along, just to see what other goodies i could find there.

figuring i'd bought the last batch of longans, i was surprised to find fresh new offerings. throughout the time we were there, delivery men kept on carting in boxes after boxes of longans, which people snatching them up just as quickly. frugal asian shoppers were pulling the berries off of the stems so there wouldn't be any added weight. that was probably the busiest part of the supermarket, like a feeding frenzy of longan buyers. we went to the cafe to drop off some supplies. my mother and i returned to belmont, while my father stayed with my sister until closing time.

after dinner i returned to cambridge. my roommate had just finished cooking. how do i know? how about the overwhelming pervasive smell of cooking oil? it must've been so smokey that when i walked across my kitchen floor they felt slippery from the oil. i took it in strides through, not the first time a china roommate has saturated the house with cooking oil. they'll be plenty of opportunities for degreasing once she leaves in mid-september.

i hadn't really talked to my roommate since friday night. she told me the boston adventure she had with her former roommate on saturday. they played tourist, hanging out in the quincy market area, doing some shopping and even lunching at legal seafood, sampling our new england clam chowder and lobsters. returning to cambridge in the late afternoon, she got off at kendall square and wandered around the MIT campus before walking all the way back home. my roommate's kind of a music nerd (she sings in a traveling chorus group back in shanghai and plays a few instruments) and bought a siku in boston, a peruvian pan flute. she was toying with her new instrument while i watched mad men.