What I’ve Spent Since I Got My Keys Back From My Ex-Boyfriend

I didn’t realize that getting the keys to my apartment back from the guy who told me he was moving to Germany, then broke up with me, would be more painful than, well, that. It was. Herewith, the damage I’ve done in the week since:

• $9.38: Vegetable dumplings and vegetarian brown-rice sushi from Harris Teeter

• $19: A basket of calamari to split with friends and two Anderson Valley Summer Solstice Cerveza Cremas at Toledo Lounge

• $18: Two Leffe Browns at Marvin. He gives my keys back. We talk: I say he didn’t even try to make things work with me; he says he’s made his decision. I cry and stare at him as meanly as possible when he tries to hug me. I’m on the second Leffe when a guy comes up to me, introduces himself, and says, “I like your glasses. I’m a dyed-in-the-wool conservative.” I am thrust out of my tiny little local life (which mostly consists of hardcore shows in group-house basements and riding my bike to drink on my friends’ porches), and am reminded of why people hate D.C. 


• $100: Therapist appointment

• $13: Eyebrow threading

• $9.50: Lunch special from A.M. Wine Shoppe (grilled vegetable panini, Blenheim ginger ale, chips; I eat everything)

• $51.36: Factory Denim Roll-Up Shorts from J. Crew Factory. I am a firm proponent of cutting your own jorts from busted-out pairs of jeans once it gets warmer, but I don’t have any busted-out pairs of jeans; I’ve either cut them all into jorts or ripped the crotch while biking. It costs $8.75 to ship these shorts. I cringe when I click “purchase.”

• $5: Contribution to pool of cash for work happy hour, better described as “drinking PBR on the parking deck”

• $26.11: Provisions—plastic cups, Boursin, crackers, lemonade, sparkling apple juice, chocolate chip cookies, and tiramisu-flavored Norwegian wafers that don’t taste very good or very much like tiramisu—to watch Song 1 on its third-to-last last night at the Hirshhorn Museum with as many people as I can convince to join me. I bring gin in a Mason jar.


• $16.73: A vegetable sandwich, cup of fruit, bottle of water, and iced coffee from Au Bon Pain in Union Station. I haven’t eaten all day and am about to get on a train to New York, where I plan to be as productive as possible: I’ve got stuff to file by Monday. I instead spend the three-hour ride staring out the window, listening to Lilys’ Better Can’t Make Your Life Better on repeat.


• $20: MetroCard payment

• $30.41: Lamb tagine with olives and lemon and a third of a bottle of wine at Mogador

• $12: A Bud Light tallboy at The Promise Ring’s show at Irving Plaza. I’m in New York this weekend because I have a ticket to see The Promise Ring, though I very nearly don’t go. I wasn’t supposed to see them alone, and hearing “My Life is at Home” while sipping a shitty beer I don’t know why I ordered seems like a particularly sharp knife in the stomach from the universe. At least I got to the show too late to hear “Skips a Beat (Over You),” during which I probably would have cried.


• $8: Coffee and a breakfast bagel (fried egg, avocado, tomato, cream cheese) at Tiny Cup in Bed-Stuy

• $9.10: Bottle of water and fruit salad from Primo Cappuccino in Penn Station (I don’t eat the fruit salad)


• $800: Security deposit on a new apartment. I don’t have to move. My rent won’t be any less in the new place (though the space is a whole lot bigger), and I’m on a month-to-month lease in an incredibly well-managed building. But I can’t keep my mind off my failed relationship, much of which played out where I live now, and to distract myself I’m creating other messes. Moving will occupy my time. Too bad my lease doesn’t start until July 1.

• $8: Show at Bier Baron. There are local bands I don’t really keep track of playing in what I consider to be a pretty weird place for a show.


• $8.24: Sandwich from A.M. Wine Shoppe (tuna salad with arugula, roasted red peppers, and bacon; I eat the whole thing)

• $17.50: Ticket to The Clean at Rock & Roll Hotel on June 7

• $29.29: Order from Slumberland Records of albums I should own already (Black Tambourine’s self-titled full-length and onetwothreefour EP, and the second Searching for the Now split)


• $19.50: Lunch at Sakuramen, the new ramen place on 18th Street NW (ramen and pickled vegetables). I don’t think the broth is cloudy enough and I’m miffed that it costs $2 to add a soft-boiled egg to my bowl, but the noodles are good.

• $4.67: Ice cream bars for myself and a coworker at 7-11 (Good Humor Oreo bar, ice-cream Snickers)

• $70: Haircut at Trim Salon

• $42.19: Five-hour Zipcar reservation (I’m a very nervous Zipcar driver) to get to Oegadgib, the most valuable Korean barbecue joint in Annandale, Va. It is the most valuable Korean barbecue joint in Annandale because it will serve you unlimited banchan and meat for $16. My friend pays for my food because I rented the Zipcar. I eat what I’m pretty sure is more than than $16 of meat.


Alex Baca listens to music in Washington, D.C. Photo: Shutterstock/Richard Mann


39 Comments / Post A Comment

Megano! (#124)

Mmmm all that food sounds good.
I never did get the keys back from my ex after he moved out, but I heard some fun news in that he moved in with his little bro and his girlfriend in February (I think), and they are already moving out because he is a fucking nightmare to live with. Meanwhile, I had an awesome last day at my internship (plus I got surprise paid for it!). I win!


Megano! (#124)

@redheaded&crazy It was only $300, but someone paid me for my words! I AM SO PROUD!

MuffyStJohn (#280)

Better hope those J. Crew shorts fit you – they’ll charge you another $6 to send them back. (Seriously, I have given up on J. Crew for this pair with their recent inability to cut a shirt to size.)

But more importantly: where the hell did you find an apartment for $800? I’ve been hunting for something new under $1200 and coming up empty for several months.

OhMarie (#299)

@MuffyStJohn I was thinking the same thing–I wonder if the security deposit isn’t actually a full month’s rent?

alexbaca (#865)

@MuffyStJohn They fit. Well, they don’t fit as well as I’d like. But they’ll do.

The deposit was $800, not the rent. That said, I looked at a totally gorgeous one-bedroom apartment in Brightwood (I’m assuming you’re in D.C.) for $875/month. If you don’t mind living farther north and if you’re OK with biking or driving* everywhere since there’s no really close Metro stop and only one or two bus lines nearby, there’s some great stuff up there.

*I do not endorse driving in D.C. I don’t have a car. But I get why people do it.

MuffyStJohn (#280)

@Alex Ah, I see. I actually just sold my car and don’t really bike, so Brightwood isn’t so much an option for me. I work and go to school on the Orange/Blue, which apparently is the Land of Totally Unaffordable Housing. I refuse to transfer every day. In fact, transferring metro lines is the one thing I like less than living in a space under 250 square feet.

cherrispryte (#19)

@MuffyStJohn What about SW Waterfront? I haven’t been apartment shopping in 3 years or so, so perhaps I’m off my gourd, but that part of town was way cheaper, and a decent walk to Federal Center, which is Blue/Orange?
I, too, share your hatred of changing trains, which is why I have become addicted to some bus lines.

MuffyStJohn (#280)

@cherrispryte I’ve been keeping my eyes peeled for SW Waterfront! There are a lot of nice buildings out there. Unfortunately not many of them seem to be pet friendly (and I type this with a fat cat sitting on my lap).

I live in Eastern Market right now; I’d kind of like to move out closer to the stadium/prison, because a year ago when I moved here I saw a lot of affordable stuff in that area, but I’ve been looking for months and haven’t seen anything promising. I don’t know if it’s the time of year, my price range, or what, but the market is just bone dry for me right now.

How are the buses? I haven’t heard good things but we all know the state the metro is in at this point, so I’m willing to consider them.

alexbaca (#865)

@MuffyStJohn Southwest is not a bad option! Neither is Stadium/Armory. I would wager that right now is not a great time to find rental housing because there’s a lot of shifting as people graduate (since D.C. has so many goddamn university students). I was having surprisingly great success with Craigslist but also asked all my friends to give me the contact info for their landlords or building managers and called them on my own. That’s how I found the place I’m moving into.

Buses are great. The last time I rode Metro consistently was when I was commuting from D.C. to College Park (I did my undergrad at UMD but lived in D.C.). I rarely use it now. But even the buses depend on where you live. I have awesome access to the 90, but I live off U Street right now. The 70 goes down to the Waterfront and there is a Metro station down there, but I think that’s about it.

I don’t want to say “maybe you should ride a bike,” because I hate being That Asshole who tells everyone to ride a bike, but it’s hands-down the most efficient and cheapest way to get around D.C. given the way our public transit system has filled in, and it massively expands your living options. I think I’ve put maybe $30 on my SmarTrip in the past 6 months, if that.

MuffyStJohn (#280)

@Alex Yeah, I have a feeling this is just a bad time of year. I’ve got a little while left on my lease so I don’t have to start panicking yet, I just remember how difficult (and competitive) it was to find this place and I start to break out in hives.

It’s good to hear the buses are good! I’ve heard mixed reviews about them, but what you’re saying about certain lines being better than others makes sense.

As for the bike: I totally want to be able to ride! However, I just learned to ride a bike about a year ago (I’m 28), and I never learned the rules of the road. I have a lot of fear about riding in the streets unless there are clear bike lanes (this comes from learning how to ride in Baltimore with a teacher who thought it was smart to just dart across lanes of traffic and expect me to follow him when I was still having trouble braking). So I have a little bit of PTSD about urban biking. However, if you’re ever in Eastern Market and you see a freakishly tiny tattooed person riding around hesitantly on a blue Trek, that’s me! Perhaps I’ll dedicate my summer to getting more comfortable riding around the city and see if it’s really a way I can see myself commuting. Maybe I’ll participate in a Critical Mass or something.

alexbaca (#865)

@MuffyStJohn Oof. Yeah, that doesn’t sound like an ideal way to learn.

WABA offers confident cycling classes if you feel like doing the lesson thing again (and they totally kno what they’re doing). I’m not crazy about Critical Mass—it seems like the people that participate in it are intentionally antagonist to cars, and while I dislike the behavior of a lot of drivers, it just isn’t worth the effort for me. BicycleSpace, the bike shop I go to, offers really chill group rides on Saturday and Sunday mornings.

Or you can hit me up and we can go for a bike ride, because I dig riding bikes with people around D.C.

tibia (#992)

@MuffyStJohn I ride the bus every single day, and I LOVE IT. It probably depends where you live (I live in Mt Pleasant), but I think it’s the best way to get around certain parts of the city. Learn the bus lines near you, download the NextBus app, and get exactly where you need to go so easily!

Tatiana (#194)

Breakups totally suck, but your new apartment sounds great. As does this A.M. Wine Shoppe with amazing sandwiches. (I want to go to there!)

I cannot imagine where bands would play at Bier Baron. Next to the bathrooms? In that cave downstairs?

alexbaca (#865)

@mirror_father_mirror Upstairs. Behind a railing. It was weird.

cherrispryte (#19)

@mirror_father_mirror This was my question as well.

thewurst (#435)

Why is a tallboy $12? Is this what I’m getting myself into? They are $3 here.

alexbaca (#865)

@thewurst I blame Irving Plaza for being all-around terrible.

@thewurst I am also wondering why anybody paid $12 for BudLight.

thewurst (#435)

@Alex I will note that as a place to avoid.

pizza (#599)

@thewurst It’s unavoidable if the band you like is only playing there (i.e. Promise Ring reunion). I was at the same show and paid $9 for a Stella.

ranran (#1,002)

How excited are you to see The Clean?? Me: so excited!!!!

alexbaca (#865)

@ranran So excited! Really excited! Except Rock & Roll Hotel’s sound is terrible.

The “new” Toledo Lounge sucks.

alexbaca (#865)

@JohnnySwitchblade:Adventure Punk AGREE

viola bruise (#804)

Oof. The last time I saw The Promise Ring was 1997, and one reason I avoided their recent NYC show was the realization that I had 15 more years of breakups, missed chances, and wistful nostalgia that might provoke intense weeping into $12 Bud Light tallboys. (Weeping into the shoulders of emo tall boys is ostensibly free?) I commend you Alex, you are strong.

alexbaca (#865)

@viola bruise I’m too young to have seen them the first time around. I saw them in Chicago in February and have tickets to the D.C. show in July. I think I am on a teary marathon for these shows but, whoa, they’ve been good, especially for a reunion tour.

I guess what I’m saying is that emo dudes can get at me in July at 9:30 Club.


Eyebrow threading always makes me feel really good after? Although, it amazes me how much prices vary.

alexbaca (#865)

@Nina B.@twitter The other place that does threading here (D.C. is so tiny) is, like, $15, without tip. I am not crazy about the way Dupont Threading shapes my brows but, like, it is better than having them…not taken care of.

The Promise Ring still exists?! I used to listen to them in high school!

alys (#1,054)

The last thing I ate in Brooklyn was a breakfast bagel from tiny cup.

it was awesome.

neverinyears (#1,064)

Decided to check out The Clean after reading this, then became incredibly thrilled they’re playing on a weeknight during the week I’m taking off between jobs, thanks!

isavedlatin (#996)

“I am thrust out of my tiny little local life (which mostly consists of hardcore shows in group-house basements and riding my bike to drink on my friends’ porches), and am reminded of why people hate D.C.”

Between this and the gin and the mason jar, I am reminded of why this article is deeply irritating.

chic noir (#713)

@isavedlatin – hey hey hey, what do you have against hipsters?

alexbaca (#865)

@isavedlatin I do like to be honest about what I do in my spare time.

The gin was in a Mason jar because my flask was filled with whiskey.

chic noir (#713)

$19.50: Lunch at Sakuramen, the new ramen place on 18th Street NW (ramen and pickled vegetables).

Are you kidding me??? 20 bucks for some damn noodles. Geez

alexbaca (#865)

@chic noir It was too expensive—like literally everything in D.C. But I try to check out new places in my neighborhood before writing them off. (Also, $19.50 included tip. I realized I didn’t include tip on the other items I have on here.)

LOL, great story! you could always use a site to find a guy to get you new keys hyundai or whatever…

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