Qualia Coffee (and some other things)

Oh, man! I kept meaning to post this review and then kept forgetting. Life! I’m in the middle of a fast-paced six week summer course and the grading is for real. So today I took a mini-break to post this and order some audiobooks so I can cancel my Audible subscription (too expensive and also Lena Dunham’s book was way more boring than I expected).

A few other life updates:

  • Saw Magic Mike XXL and then overheard a conversation where someone was trying to explain the first movie from an intellectual POV. Like, really? Such a DC move. Let’s just all be honest and admit that Magic Mike is not a movie you watch when you want to expand your mind or grow as a person. It’s a movie you watch when you want to turn off your brain and hear other women in the theater ooh and ahh to Channing Tatum.
  • Rahul and I crossed some big wedding stuff of our to-do list: finished our registry, ordered our invitations, ordered his suit, etc. Plus we’re now less than 100 days away!! AHHH!
  • Summer is somehow almost over…what?? School starts back in one month! How did this happen? Time to do some last minute summer things…I’m dying to go to the beach, just need to find the time to make it happen!
  • My runs have gotten a lot better! I’ve found the magic secret to productive runs in the stupid, stupid summer heat: running indoors! OK, I know that’s not a new idea, but it is for me. I’ve always hated running on treadmills because it’s so BORING. But I’ve discovered that “Parks & Recreation” comes on TV weekday mornings at 10, which works great with my afternoon teaching schedule. Watching that show while running has finally gotten me through up to 4 miles without stopping, and on a pretty good pace too, considering I had a fractured leg earlier this year. Pretty ironic that “Parks & Rec” is the show that saved my runs, considering what I wrote a few weeks ago. Other things work too: Crazy, Stupid, Love got me through 6 miles on Sunday. About halfway through half marathon training and I’m finally pretty good about it, finally!
  • I made a few additions to the apartment, namely a new chair and lamp to our desk that has reinvigorated my interest to sit there.

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I’m in love with the chair. Plus, the view’s not bad either:

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Next home improvement: a new piece of wall art for above the bed. Any suggestions for places to look? I’ve browsed Society 6 and some of the free downloads on Pinterest, but haven’t found anything I’m absolutely in love with.

Okay, now on to the coffee.

The following post is part of the “‘I Can’t Stop Drinking the Coffee’: Exploring DC’s Coffee Scene” series.

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I’ve visited Qualia Coffee once before, and always meant to go back. You know what happens when you “always” mean to do something…it never happens. In any case, I live a little closer to the place now, so might try to stop by more regularly. WE’LL SEE. It was an easy drive, so that was a plus, and I scored a parking spot right across the street. Double plus. The place is within walking distance of the Georgia Ave metro, which also helps.

I loved Qualia when I first went (in 2011! ahh) because the barista was super friendly, talked to me about the different coffee options, and didn’t make me feel rushed as I ordered. It probably helped that I showed up so early that there was hardly any one else inside. I also remember liking the space and feeling productive because of the warm atmosphere. I wasn’t let down on my second visit. Even though they had more people inside, I didn’t feel rushed as I ordered, and the staff seemed friendly. They have GREAT coffee (as evidenced in my last visit), which I believe they roast in house.

What I ordered: I ordered just a latte, even though I was tempted by their snacks. I went to Qualia on a very hot Tuesday morning and was already a bit frazzled from a terrible, terrible run earlier in the day, followed by my apartment’s water being shut off for maintenance (which I knew was happening, but still annoying). In any case, all I could focus on ordering was the coffee, and I was almost too hot to even drink that.

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Latte Grade: The art on the latte was so-so, and I even overheard the barista talking about how his latte art is always a bit shoddy. I think that’s okay, dude, because latte art can probably only get you so far in life. The latte itself was hot and delicious, which was no surprise. As I said above, I’ve visited Qualia once before and their coffee was AMAZING then and is still amazing, as evidenced by the great latte flavor. You definitely get a strong coffee taste, which I love.  Again, another place with a good mix of coffee and milk. Overall grade: A. 

What I’ll get next time: They had a wide selection of cookies, which I wish I paid more attention to when I was there. I mean, peanut butter, dark chocolate, white chocolate cranberry…yes, please! I’ll also probably get the iced coffee, as I overheard a bunch of people ordering it. It’s either really good, or it was just freakin hot, or a combo of both.

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Best time of day to go: They have a lot of seating options–two patios, indoor seating, and an upstairs too, I believe (although I could be making that up). Point is, there seems to be plenty of seating, and the space inside was pretty sparse while I was there, but the back patio seemed to be hopping. Again, I would say a safe rule of thumb is in the morning or early afternoon, before people descend upon the place post-work or school.

The ambience: One thing I really liked about my second visit to Qualia was how open the space was. When I visited the first time, way back in 2011, it was a bit colder, although, according to my blog post, they had the door open then too, so I guess it’s a thing they do? IN ANY CASE, I really loved how the open door made the space seem super open and welcoming and airy. While the inside space is rather small, the open door space helped quite a lot. Right when you walk up, you spot people chatting on the front patio, a chalk board sign welcoming you, the whole nine yards. It seems to be a neighborhood joint, as I overheard several people who knew the baristas (I am such an OBVIOUS people watcher, it must be the writer in me), and I would definitely make this my neighborhood spot if I lived in Petworth. It’s quick, accommodating, and welcoming. Plus, as added bonuses, they had art for sale on the walls and free condoms in the bathroom. So, hey, anything goes.

Good for: Again, another place that seems accommodating for all things. I sat at the communal bar (again) and was sitting right next to another girl working on her computer. I visited Qualia the day after TCB–at TCB, I asked someone to watch my computer and at Qualia, I got asked to watch a computer. I don’t really know the purpose of this story other than to say not all people are jerks? I don’t know. In any case, they have a variety of seating, including some couches.

Will you need a jacket? Um, no. I actually realized on the way over there that I had forgotten a sweater, which I realized I did not need at all. They had the front and back doors open, so it was pretty steamy inside. Let’s just say I was sweatin’ a bit. BUT the open doors made for a nice, open space, as discussed above.

Other things to know: Fresh off the Roast brews and sales their own coffee here, in drinkable form or in coffee bean to-go form. Several people came in while I was there just to buy coffee beans. Also, as discussed above, they seem to have an open door policy (as in the doors were open), so it might get pretty humid and hot during these summer days.

What I did: I worked on a story I’m trying to write–key word is TRYING. It’s going pretty well, though. (knocks on wood)
Update on this: it stopped going well. UGH! My current plan is to reread my MFA thesis and finish writing it. I know I can do it! 

Stupid thing I read online: I don’t remember, but I loved this post where Buzzfeed edited Katy Perry’s nonsensical tweet, even though I found the whole Katy Perry-Taylor Swift-Nicki Minaj debacle to be SO DUMB. At the end of the day, you are all successful artists, so GET OVER yourselves.
I will say that Taylor Swift seems like someone I would NOT want to be friends with. You’d have to watch everything you say and do around her in an attempt to not offend or upset her! No thank you.

My reaction to how often the radio show people talked about this “fight” on the air:

As Hannah Montana once said, “Everybody has those days”

Have you ever had one of those moments where you stopped what you were doing, looked around, and thought, “What the hell am I doing?”

I had one of those moments on Sunday, right after I tripped over a big rock while running and came crashing to my knees. I was already a bit flustered because 1) I was running a completely new route 2) I kind of didn’t know where I was and 3) I had, in my classic nature, left 25 minutes after I meant to, which meant sunset was fast approaching.

It was my own fault. Earlier in the day, I had decided to run a new route that took me into the top corners of Rock Creek Park. I carefully studied the trail I was going to use but, when I got there, I couldn’t find it. So, just a minute after I thought wow, this trail is really rocky, I BETTER WATCH WHERE I’M GOING, I found myself frantically studying my phone while running and next thing I knew I was soaring to the ground.

I sat there for a moment, dirt all over my hands and knees, and tried to process what had just happened. But all I could think was “what the hell am I doing!?” On top of that, I couldn’t get my grandmother’s warning to never go into Rock Creek Park at night out of my head (she used to live in DC) and my mom’s warnings to generally never go anywhere alone at night out of my head.
Hey, at least I remembered my dad’s advice and threw my hands down to catch myself. Whoo hands.

But my frustration over falling was more than just a bruised ego (and right knee). It’s with myself, and my ridiculous schedule, and my (potentially) foolish plans. I’ve been busier this semester than I have been in a while. I teach pretty much all day Mondays and Wednesdays, have weekly meetings, office hours, grading, and SAT tutoring classes. On some days, I leave at 8 AM and get home around 10 PM. I’m not complaining, because I’m happy to have the work. It’s just taking me a while to reconcile that my time is not my own anymore. Even when I’m home, I’m usually spending all of my time grading or doing other necessary things (like cleaning, cooking, showering, killing gnats that won’t leave my plants alone, lesson planning, etc).

That being said, this has drastically cut down on my free time. There are many things I would like to spend said free time doing–reading Wild (next book on my list), watching Agents of SHIELD and other silly shows with Rahul, going to see The Maze Runner in theaters (I loved that series, okay?!), going to see Gone Girl in theaters (the clock is ticking down on that one), watching Netflix, BLOGGING, working on my unfinished thesis project, generally wasting time, and exercising.

When I weighed my options, the exercise option came out on top. I just can’t not exercise in some way, even if it’s not as much as I would like. I can tell how much better I feel when I exercise regularly, and I occasionally need some kind of outlet that frees my mind more than watching a movie or looking at cute adoptable kittens online can.

So I decided that I would train for a half marathon on Nov. 22.

Sounds crazy, right? But my last half went really well and I figured that as long as I am least running three times a week, with a long run on the weekend, I can still do it. Plus, having something to work toward will motivate me more. The running three times a week is what I’m able to fit in right now. I count on those runs.

So back to Sunday, sitting on my ass with dirty knees and hands. I haven’t registered for this race yet, and all I could think was the “what the hell am I doing?” How can I run a half when I can’t even get a mile into a run without injuring myself? I know that Sunday’s run was circumstantial, but in my stressed out mind, where I allocate a certain amount of time to get this run in, I just felt like an idiot.

In hindsight, I had a classic Katherine-panic-moment, where I experience anxiety over something that’s not really that big a deal at all. But when the running is one of the few things that provides a non-grading, non-work outlet, I need one that is injury free. AKA stress free. Because otherwise my brain goes bye-bye.

In other news…

Last week was one of those weeks where everything happened at once because, you know, LIFE. I visited the dentist to have my permanent crown “installed” (following a very expensive surprise root canal 3 weeks ago), I visited the doctor for my persistent headaches after realizing a burner had been out on my gas stove and I thought I was dying, I visited a different doctor later in the week for my persistent headaches and was prescribed antibiotics for a sinus infection, I took my car in for an oil change, my computer had a meltdown and had to be taken away for science (eer repairs), etc etc etc. Basically I felt like Andy Dwyer after visiting the Doctor for the first time in years. It was like my life had picked this past week as THE WEEK for everything to break.

But never fear, this week has been looking up. I got my hair cut, I received the Stella & Dot jewelry I ordered after attending a jewelry party last weekend (do you know they serve wine at those things? Wine + pretty jewelry = dangerous combo), my computer is back and is basically brand new, I’m killing it (so far) in grading my student’s essays (as in I’m way further along than I expected to be at this point) and, THE BEST NEWS OF ALL:

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THIS GUY GETS HERE TODAY!!!!!! He has a short layover in DC before spending a weekend in TN then he’s back up here! FOR 12 WEEKS! I’m so excited I could scream but I’ll wait until I see him at the airport. TODAY!

Eating Whatever the Hell I Want: Cherry Blossom Ten Miler Recap

Gathering at the starting/finishing line, the Washington Monument.

Gathering at the starting/finishing line, the Washington Monument.

I ran the Cherry Blossom Ten Miler on Sunday, and since then my biggest question has been how long can I use that as an excuse to eat whatever the hell I want? Pre-race pizza? Yum. Post race muffins? Necessary. Next day spaghetti? Sure. Next next day Indian food for lunch? Delicious. Next next day ice cream? Okay, now it’s getting a little out of hand.
To be fair, the ice cream was from Ben & Jerry’s free scoop day. So I feel like that shouldn’t even really count.

Rachel and I looking confident before the race started. Post race: confidence still there??

Rachel and I looking confident before the race started. Post race: confidence still there??

The race itself wasn’t as terrible as I thought it was going to be. In fact, it was actually great—although my face in some of the official race photos will try to tell you a different story. After waiting in the longest bathroom line ever—don’t think I’ve ever waited so long to use a Porta Potty—Rachel and I were able to start the race in the same corral. We were in the 10:30-minute mile one, which meant we passed the elite runners looking ever-so-cool at around their mile five right after we started. A fellow green-miler yelled, “whoo hoo fast runners!” to which her friend told her to stop focusing on the real runners and on her own running.

Love the costumes.

Love the costumes.

That was probably one of the best parts of the race, and what made it feel like not 10 miles. Since I was running with about 15,000 of my closest friends, there were always people around me. That’s a huge motivating factor. It’s even more motivating when you have fun things to look at, like the guy dressed up as a flower, or the America-themed couple. This was my first large race, and I was honestly expecting a madhouse. And while there were people EVERYWHERE—someone needs to teach those tourists to cross the road with conviction. If you’re going to cross the road with hundreds of runners coming toward you at a much faster pace, commit to it. Don’t stop and look at us—it was a good kind of crowd, as the crowd was a big reason to keep moving forward. That and the awesome signs passed along the way, two of my favorites being “This is the worst parade ever” and “Run like Phoebe!” Oh, and I definitely couldn’t have done miles 6-8 without Rachel running beside me, as my legs were absolutely ready to quit. But that makes sense when the longest I ran in training was six miles. Like a dummy.

Run run run! Run like walkers are out to get you!

Run run run! Run like walkers are out to get you!

This is my longest race since my half marathon two years ago, which was a much different scene. The night after the race (like we’re talking 8 hours later), I was helping myself to a generous serving of cake at an event I attended with my parents when a woman said, “Slow down, remember it was only 13 miles.” Yeah, it was ONLY 13 miles. I feel like that equals out to at least several pieces of cake.

I’m going to walk home today from the metro instead of using the bus, as a half-assed attempt at equaling out the ice cream consumption. But really, I can’t help but still operate under the fact that yeah, I ran 10 miles on Sunday. ONLY ten. So pass the snacks.

What Happens When You Lose Your Blog Password: A Study in Laziness

So there was a time when I was really good about posting on my blog on a regular basis. I made blog writing and posting part of my weekly routine–treating it just like a homework assignment–and was very religious in ensuring I always had something fresh for my readers.

Ha! That time has passed.

Over the past few months, there have been many different reasons for why I’ve found it hard to keep my blog updated. At first, it was adjusting to a new schedule and a new school year. And then it was because I ran out of things to write about and didn’t want to share my dumb life with strangers. (disclaimer: I don’t actually think my life is dumb.) And lately? Well, to be honest, I forgot my password and, after changing my password a handful of times because I kept forgetting it, and kept forgetting where I wrote it down, I just gave up. It would have been easy to change the password again, but I wasn’t feeling it.

To sum up: I’M LAZY.

But as the semester draws to a close, I finally decided to embark on the dreadful task of changing the password and here we all are. It’s springtime outside (and actually feels like it today) and with that comes new possibilities.
I could write inspirational cards, don’t ya think?

Exciting things that have happened in my (dumb-not-so-dumb) life lately:

The finished quilt top. Next step: the actual quilting.

The finished quilt top. Next step: the actual quilting.

1. I’m making a quilt and also going to finish a quilt my grandmother started decades ago and never finished. My amazing and talented friend Anna has been the inspiration behind this. If you are a quilter yourself, please check out her blog!

2. I’m staying for a third year to complete my thesis for my MFA degree. My thesis currently looks like this: ASDMKLASDJLWEJKWJK INSERT AMAZING SMART WONDERFUL BRILLIANT AWARD WINNING WORDS HERE ADJKASLDRJWELRKJQWELRKQW.

Happy!

Happy!

3. I saw Rahul over Spring Break! I also got to see my family, pets, best friends, Sonic, favorite sushi and Mexican restaurants.

4. A few friends and I pulled a pretty epic April Fool’s Day by putting googly eyes on EVERYTHING in their office.

5. Kid President is from Tennessee. Not just Tennessee, but like 20-minutes-from-where-I’m-from in Tennessee. Okay, this isn’t MY life, but it still feels pretty important.

6. The Cherry Blossom 10-Miler is in two days. The longest I’ve run in preperation for it? Six miles. Here’s hoping for a miracle….

7. There may or may not be a rat infestation under the PSK house.

And three of the more interesting things I’ve done lately….

The view from the Exec Building. Oh hey, Obama!

The view from the Exec Building. Oh hey, Obama!

8. Got to go INSIDE THE EISENHOWER EXECUTIVE BUILDING. Felt like a legit bad ass and also like Leslie Knope, except Joe Biden wasn’t there.

9. Attended an event about the documentary “No Job for a Woman: The Women Who Fought to Report WWII” at which SOLEDAD O’BRIEN was the panel moderator. And I’ll tell you something: she is SKINNYTINYSKINNY in real life!

Hey there Soledad O'Brien, Michele Midori Fillion, Leisa Meyer, Missy Ryan, Ann Rondeau, and Kristen Rouse. You are all awesome and I will probably never be as awesome as you are. K bye.

Hey there Soledad O’Brien, Michele Midori Fillion, Leisa Meyer, Missy Ryan, Ann Rondeau, and Kristen Rouse. You are all awesome and I will probably never be as awesome as you are. K bye.

10. Attended the 42nd Jefferson Lecture in the Humanities, held every year by the National Endowment for the Humanities. Who was the 42nd lecturer? Just this dude, Martin Scorsese. NO BIG DEAL.

My new BFF. Just kidding. I didn't get close enough to make that connection happen. NEXT TIME.

My new BFF. Just kidding. I didn’t get close enough to make that connection happen. NEXT TIME.

I will try to do better to keep this guy updated as the semester ends. But I can’t make any promises….

The countdown begins….

I’ve made some changes to my blog lately, one of which is the “Milestone” widget. You’ll notice it at the bottom of the page. When I first saw this widget, I immediately liked it, but couldn’t think of any use for it.

But wait! I entered the lottery for the Cherry Blossom 10-miler in D.C. in December. And made it through the lottery. So now I have this race in a little over 2 months that I have to prepare for. I’ve run one half-marathon before, but that was two years ago and if someone asked me to just up and run 10 miles tomorrow I would throw up at some point during the run.
When my friend Rachel, who’s also doing the race, saw my widget, she sent me a text that said “Terrifying. Wanna run Saturday?” So maybe the little countdown widget will cast some magical spell over us that makes us constantly motivated to train.

That being said, I’ve created a detailed (and stolen from Hal Higdon) 10-week training schedule to get me up to speed. It starts off pretty easy (2 mile runs), so it was not hard to commit myself to it. Plus, I wrote it in my planner so now I have to do it.

I’m not going to obnoxiously post about my progress or shove it in your face that I’m training for something by posting pictures of my running shoes clad feet with a tag like “killing it.” Instead, I’ll post one annoying picture here of my now-I-have-to-do-it-because-it’s-in-my-planner race prep. And I’ll get excited as the countdown grows smaller and closer to the date.

This makes it real....

This makes it real….

Also, please take some time to check out what I’ve changed on the blog!

Spring Break! (aka Spring Vacation)

Where I spent part of my weekend, Hyatt Regency-Chesapeake Bay. 

SPRING BREAK is officially here and that means DANCE PARTY EVERY DAY.

View from hotel room, AH-mazing!

Except not really. Because I have so much school work to do. Which makes it a spring vacation for me. Plus, I’ve been eating triple serving size amounts of Cheetos because who knew they were so delicious? This has also resulted in the great Cheeto debate of 2012, with me swearing the puffy version were the original cheetos, and Rahul claiming the crunchy cheetos. He even says he has like research and stuff to back him up. I guess judge for yourself. Either way, they’re both delicious.

Sad beach.

While most of my spring break (whoo hoo!) is going to be school work, school work, and school work, I had a fun weekend that kicked it off right. After a visit from my good friend Alex, we had a wedding weekend on the Eastern Shore for one of my sorority sisters that got married. There was lots of dancing and crab-shaped chocolates and an open bar and time to catch up with friends and pretty, pretty things. Plus, Kellie (the bridge) looked absolutely beautiful, even when she was rushing to her brother’s side when he passed out during the ceremony—don’t lock those knees, kids, you won’t always have a sister that just so happens to be a nurse.

Okay, I lied. I took one picture at the wedding. Of what? Who knows. I also have a picture of my cake. Apparently that was important to snap.

I love weddings. I am one of those people who will look at every wedding picture available on Facebook, even if I don’t know the newly married couple. Call me stalker. But I love wedding pictures. And baby pictures, but that’s a different story for a different time.

Crazy Chesapeake Bay Bridge. Looking onto the Bay from this (which is not advised to do while driving, unlike me) makes you feel like you’re crossing new waters with scary boats in the mist that are barely visible.

The Eastern Shore proves to be beautiful, and the wedding was as well. Of course, I don’t have any pictures from the wedding, because I’m one of those people that forgets to take pictures when I’m having a good time. SILLY ME. But the hotel was right on the water and had a spec-TACULAR view of the water. Plus, other exciting things:

Wal-mart!

There was a WAL-MART right across from the resort. I had to go in, but of course didn’t find a fan for my freakin hot room. That’s four stores so far that have failed me. But I did find Cheetos.

Sonic!

SONIC SONIC SONIC! Could anything be better! I hit this up twice. Hello, strawberry limeade and other large inexpensive drinks that are delicious.

I crossed a scary, kind of cool bridge to get to the Eastern Shore.

CHERRY BLOSSOMS AND CRAZY CROWDS! (I was excited)

I like saying Eastern Shore because it sounds really posh even though I entered the area while eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich that I had packed for the road in a sandwich bag.

Spring in D.C. means kite time too!

CHERRY BLOSSOMS HAVE ARRIVED. After getting back on Sunday, I headed into D.C. to run around the mall and Tidal Basin and look at the pretty trees. I didn’t get much running done around the basin, because of all the people, but regardless, it was beautiful. If you’re in the area, be sure to check out the festivities this weekend. D.C. is the best in the spring. It’s like God, or someone, wants to reward us with super-duper beautiful flowers. SERIOUSLY. Amazing. If you live in the area, I’m recruiting you to go with me to some of the events for the 100th Celebrations. Prepare yourself.

I have been doing work but have been mostly distracted by this web site.

And now you’re faced with hours of non-productivity like me. You’re welcome.

So beautiful.

This means something important in relation to the Cherry Blossom gift, but I can’t remember. Now it serves as a playground, apparently.

Tidal Basin also offers paddle boats! Seriously, have I not convinced you to visit D.C. yet??

I like to take pictures of the Washington Monument, apparently.