Lady Smarts: How to Find . . . an Apartment

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By Meredith Russo lady noun [ley-dee] 1. a woman who is refined, polite, and well-spoken. 2. any woman; female. smart(s) noun [smahrt] 1. a sharp local pain, usually superficial, as from a wound, blow, or sting. 2. keen mental suffering, as from wounded feelings, affliction, grievous loss, etc. 3. Slang. intelligence; common sense. Oh my. Are you okay? Look, this isn't your average advice column ? I'm not even going to tell you what to do. So please, unclench your fists, teeth, butt cheeks. There, that's better. No, I know you far too well for those old tricks. I know that telling you not to smoke near that gas grill will never be as effective as watching someone catch on fire, arms flailing, until being tackled into a nearby pool. (Yes, I was at John's pool party this summer.) And if I need be that flaming example for all to see, such is my blessing, my pain, my Lady Smarts. Week 1: Oh, what a morning! Smell that air. Hear those birds chirping. Faint sobs, sobbing. Supers shouting. It must be? moving season! And if the names on vans like Schleppers, Intense Movers, or ABF U-Pack Moving are any indication, moving ain't fun. Especially when you've got nowhere to go. So pull up a chair, pop a few Prozac, and follow me to hell. How to? Find an Apartment. First things first, never lose your cool. Even when facing the humid walk-ups of the NY rental market, a lady remains the portrait of poise. And antiperspirant. Always establish a budget ahead of time. Only then can you maintain the utmost discretion and avoid awkward misunderstandings surrounding matters of money or payment ? when someone inevitably tries to scam you. Okay, okay. Daintily whisper your budget in my ear. Ha! You're a gas! Oh shoot, you weren't ? not to worry. Try using this handy conversion formula. NYC Rent = 3(Initial Expectation)^2 ? 4(Avg. Single Family Home in Any Other City, USA) + $2,000. Excuse me, what did I JUST say? Rule #1. Don't lose your shit. Now that we've determined your budget, you might start thinking of your ideal apartment ? the space itself, the building, the neighborhood. The je ne sais quoi. Oh, you know, just think of your favorite rom-coms set in New York! Like the one where that girl who works for the magazine meets that guy, but he likes that other girl, and then someone makes that bet. So, remember that first girl's apartment? Well, just take the bedroom, the walk-in closet, the foyer and the French doors, and throw them out that big bay window. Add a slope to the floor, make it a fifth floor walk up, and I think we've found the one! Are you crying? As for rom-com girl's adorable neighbors ? you know, the attractive young gay couple that's always dropping in to offer sage yet lighthearted love advice? Your neighbor will be an elderly bipolar man named Hal, and from the sound of things, someone "KEEPS EATING ALL HIS FUCKING CHEERIOS." Dude, mascara-in-the-eye just doesn't make your nose run like that. And if it does, you should really change your mascara. In terms of neighborhoods, avoid all acronyms above 14th street. MiMA? NoMad? Nope, not buying it. Not real. Like Cheese Wiz. Spam. Mitt Romney. Every young lady wants to live in a neighborhood full of fun restaurants and bars, but a savvy lady chooses an apartment based on its SeamlessWeb coverage. Now, while it may not look like there's much, if any, closet space in the apartments we'll be seeing, just think of it as a creative challenge. Using your stove to store shoes? That's, like, so HBO-series-circa-1998. Instead, try using your refrigerator to hold a murphy bed. Not only will the chilled climate delay your skin's aging while you sleep, but it'll also save you money on AC! Here we are, our first apartment. Please, after you darl ? OH DEAR GOD. Sorry, that startled me. No no, it was probably just someone's pet rat. Deeeep breaths. Shall we take a look inside? Who, that guy?! Sure, I guess he was dressed kinda like an exterminator. But I bet he just lives here! 18. Wait, if that's not you breathing, then ? NEXT APARTMENT, OUT OUT OUT. Okay. Calm the fuck down. I don't care what your sister's condo in Denver looks like, or how much (or little) she pays for it. Wait, seriously? Per MONTH? Is that a fucking infinity pool? Rule number one, RULE NUMBER ONE. Just shut up, okay?!? Can't you see I'm TALKING TO MYSELF

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