my doctor told me today that i sprained the ligaments in my right knee. for those of you who don't know the difference, a sprain is worse than a pull but not as bad as a tear (those are his words). he said i could (and should) still exercise, but don't go full out, just keep the muscles from atrophying. he gave me a timetable of about 2 weeks before i'd be back to normal again. "because tony, you're not 16 anymore!" he said. ha ha! so how do i follow my doctor's advice? i go out on one of the hottest days this month (98 degrees?) and ride my bike for 24 miles and 3 hours on the minuteman bike trail. did i also mention that i didn't eat any breakfast or lunch, and all i had was two burnt poptarts?

it all started this morning, i went to the mass general hospital to get some professional opinion on the cause and cure of my leg pains. mgh was surprisingly empty this morning, unlike the madhouse last friday. after some obligatory waiting time (my appointment was already late, and i knew my doctor had no other patients, so what's the deal?), doctor stahl, the doctor filling in for my regular doctor harvey simon (while he's on sabbatical), came out to greet me. unlike the evil dermatologist who shall remain nameless, doctor stahl has great bedside manners. funny and comforting, he remembered that i came in here a few weeks ago to get my wart removed and that i recently got laid off. he asked what brought me here today, and i explained to him how i started to get these pains in my right thigh after a botched run attempt a few weeks ago. i got up on the examining table, he pushed and prodded my right leg, and then told me that i sprained the ligaments in my knee, and the only cure was time and maybe some over the counter pain reliever if it was bothering me too much. he put my mind at ease, i figured it was something serious, like nerve damage or maybe the onset of west nile disease, but turns out it was just a common running injury. he asked if i stretch before my runs (i told him i do now, but i haven't in the past, apparently stretching can prevent these kind of injuries from happening), and then he told me i could still exercise in moderation. those words i would take to heart in a very bad way. because one thing i know how to do is to not be able to moderate myself.

i took the t to porter square and walked to my house in the blistering heat. hungry, thirsty, i almost went into a cafe but got too self-conscious about my already sweat soaked t-shirt and kept on going in the direction of home. my father was already there, waiting for jeremy the electrician to come by and start working his magic. unfortunately, jeremy had some other pressing matters and called an hour later to apologize not being able to make it today to do the install, but he'd definitely come tomorrow morning. so, just like that, murphy's law comes into play and the hopes of proper interior illumination will have to wait yet another day. my father and i then spent a few good hours cleaning up the place, vacuuming dust from the floors and mopping down the hardwood to get rid of drywall compound splotches left as inadvertent gifts by the general contractors. of course we couldn't have done any of that work without first installing the air conditioner in the living room. what a difference an air conditioner can make! especially on a hot and humid day like today. that one air conditioner, with a stragetically placed box fan in the hallway, can cool down the whole 780 square feet of my house - and to think it wasn't even on maximum, but just on 3! i can't even begin to imagine what the number 10 setting is like - icicles would probably form underneath the ac. the place is a lot nicer with much of the dust cleaned off, and now with air conditioning, it's pretty darn comfortable!

later i went back to belmont with the intention of getting the bike out of the garage and going for a leisurely ride. i left belmont to arlington, where i found the head of the minuteman bike trail that intersects lake street. my original plan wasn't to go all the way to the other end of the trail in bedford, but like i said, i have a problem with moderation, and once i start something, it's hard to stop. especially on a bicycle, so effortless compared to something like running. i went at a relaxed pace, mentally identifying wildflowers growing on the sides of the road as i rode by them. along the way i bumped into matthew, my aunt lili's husband, coming back from work and going home. it was kind of weird, we passed each other going in opposite directions, and in that split second, he was able to recognize me and call my name. we turned back around to confirm and sure enough, we knew each other! i just love coincidences. 2 miles later after my run-in with matthew, i was the end of the trail. i was hoping to get something cold to drink at the freight house, but they were already closed. i drank what was left of my warm water in my gatorade bottle and started the slow 12 miles back to whence i came. it was a tough ride back, i pretty much had no energy, and i was hungry and thirsty as well. although i felt my pain in my right leg, i imagined my ligaments as this ticking time bomb waiting to tear at a moment's notice because i didn't heed my doctor's warning to take it easy on the leg.

i did take some time to take more blue dasher photos, got some really nice macro shots. when i arrived back in lexington center, i threw my bike to the ground and quickly dashed into the cvs to get a cold beverage and a candy bar, satisfying some needs. i got back on the trail with much more energy, but that energy soon petered off and i was back to the snail pace again. after much effort, i finally got to the end of the trail. now was where the real fun begins. i came back during rush hour traffic and i had to share the roads with cars in a hurry to get home. all was going well until i got to brighton street in belmont, where in order to avoid being hit by a car, i squeezed my way onto a narrow sidewalk and crashed into some hedges. no injuries to report though, shrubs aren't hard like metal posts, and my bike sort of made a dent into this naturally barrier. it did jostle me off of the bike though but i didn't fall. i immediately hopped back on and continued on my merry way, pretending nothing happened. a mile to my house was where i encountered a steep hill. i had to do the standing pedal in order to produce enough power to bike over this hurdle. that's when my right leg started to hurt, the time bomb tick tocking closer to t-minus zero. i was imagining my leg to be a bridge slowly unbuckling and trusses and beams falling off one at a time as the force of the strain slowly tore my leg bridge apart. i was so relieved when i finally made it to the top of the hill, half a mile of downhill riding before arriving at my house. when i got back i immediately hit the shower completely exhausted. i'd been out for 3 hours.

after dinner my mother and i went to the watertown target to buy some more items for the house. it wasn't a very productive excursion as most of the things on my to-buy list were missing from the shelves, gobbled up by college students in the mad back-to-school buying frenzy. back-to-school is almost like christmas, except instead of buying luxury items, people buy basic necessity items, like kitchenware or bathroom products or things for the bedroom. i became disgusted over not being able to find the things i wanted to buy, and stood in the aisles sneering at anyone i thought to be a returning college student. on another coincidental note, my mother and i ran into jack (my godmother's son) and a female friend of his. i asked them if they were doing any back-to-school shopping and they both replied no. good answer! you may live.

i left target with a wall clock ($5) and some picture frames ($20). we'd had parked behind the building, not realizing that they lock the exit to the back when the store is about to close. so while my mother waited, i ran in hobbled steps to retrieve the car and bring it out front. doctor's warning, in one ear, out the other.