I love when people surprise me with unexpected gifts and I’m sure that a number of other people do too. So, I’m using my brand, Peculiar PPL, spread the holiday cheer and provide gifts to the masses via an official surprise gifts initiative. Here’s a video of me explaining “A Very Peculiar Surprise,” which is only open for one more week!
I spent 29 wonderful years of my life living with my four housemates who I called “Mumsie,” “Pops,” “Sistren” and “Brotherman.” Although I had many opportunities to move out on my own (including when I bought my own house), I realized that it would be a heinous crime to force my family to live Geremy-less. Well, after 350 months of preparation, I believe that they have finally come to terms with a Geremy-less house, so I’ve moved into my own wonderful place that I call home.
After waking up in my last bedroom over 4,000 times over the past 11 years, my mind is still getting adjusted to the idea of waking up in my own place. Over the past 3 weeks of living on my own, there have been instances where I woke up and looked around the room thinking, “where am I….whose house is this?!?” To be fair, with the massive backyard lined with fruit trees, private pool, skylights, heated floors, and high ceilings, it feels like this isn’t really my place, but in reality it is a dream come true. More importantly, my ol’ lady is happy as well because she has a nice private place to park and recharge at night.
Now the only remaining thing that I have to figure out is how my parents got food to magically appear in the refrigerator, the house to magically clean itself, and the dishes to magically wash themselves over the past few years, because somehow this house doesn’t seem have those same superpowers.
In third grade, my dad peddled my overpriced school candy catalog to everyone we knew because I wanted the grand sales prize—a telescope that could see outer space. For those two months in 1993, everyone was a target of our high-pressure sales tactic for us to get that telescope. For some reason, I felt that I had to see Saturn with that telescope and if I didn’t, I’d die of a broken heart and crushed dreams.
After family, friends, neighbors, and family-friends’ neighbors purchased at least $20 worth of the overpriced, low-quality chocolates, we finally had enough points to get the highly-coveted telescope. I was bursting with excitement! All of my childhood dreams could finally come true! With this beloved telescope, I would finally be able to see Saturn, Mars, and ET! However, when the telescope finally arrived, it was packaged in a flimsy box that measured 10 inches on its longest side. Although I was only 8 years old, I knew that we had been bamboozled without even opening the box!
The telescope was about 1/8th the size of its appearance in the catalog. It looked like it cost about 25 Zambian Kwachas to make, and what it lacked in quality, it lacked even more in functionality. When I set it up to look into our next door neighbor’s window, I could barely see her middle finger as she waved it to me while yelling. I was 8, so I assumed she was saying hi. I didn’t wave back because I was too busy holding the $4 telescope together.
The telescope incident happened in 1993, but sadly in 2014 I see even more cases of misleading product advertising, poor packaging, and unmerited overcharging. Just last year, I spent over $100 on a watch that looked like it was crafted out of high quality materials, but when I got it, it didn’t even last a week before it started to scratch and fray right in front of my eyes.
My solution to this growing issue is “Certified Peculiar.” This new service tests products against strict benchmarks and puts a seal of approval on the products that meet the standards of excellence for Peculiar people. This will make it easier to find high-quality, dependable products, and it will ensure that more money is put towards companies that purpose to make quality products.
The Certified Peculiar program is launching today with an insulated water bottle. It is a vacuum-insulated drink canister that keeps hot drinks hot for 12 hours and cold drinks cold for a full day. Not only is it Certified Peculiar, but it is sold by Peculiar PPL with a 61 day money back guarantee if you decide that you hate it after 60 days. Personally speaking, this bottle is hands-down the best and most attractive drink canister that I’ve ever used in my life.
If you want this amazing bottle in your life, it is available for pre-order on www.PeculiarPPL.com for $30, and beginning mid-September, it will be for sale for $35.
The Certified Peculiar program is quickly ramping-up between now and the end of the year, and soon it will be the most coveted product certification ever! This is all part of my goal of making a positive impact on the world by serving and enabling Peculiar people! Too bad something like this wasn’t available in 1993, because then I could’ve saved myself from the massive disappointment of not seeing Saturn and having my childhood dreams crushed before my innocent little eyes!
Buy Certified Peculiar products at www.certifiedpeculiar.com, otherwise your childhood dreams will be crushed!
It was July 4th and my cousin and I were wrapping up our last game from our weekly basketball session. Just as I did my final Allen Iverson-esque crossover on him to hit the final shot from the top of the key and win the game 11 to 0**, I said “wanna take a day-trip to Puerto Rico?” He responded “sure, when?” “Next Saturday?” “Ok great— let’s book it!” And just like that, we planned our quick, 10 hour spontaneous getaway to Puerto Rico.
Our flight landed at 9am and we picked up our rental car to start exploring! First we went to a brunch spot called “Cafecultura” which had the best breakfast food that I’ve ever tasted in my life, hands-down! They say “when in Puerto Rico, do as the puertorriqueños do,” so in addition to my go-to breakfast meal of choice (French Toast), I had to order the mallorcas, which appears to be a ham and cheese sandwich in a sweet bread roll with sugar and love sprinkled on it. It made my tastebuds sing like the Puerto Rican Coquí!
After browsing the city and seeing the historic areas of Old San Juan, we went over to the beach where we spent the next few hours. There was a man who rented chairs for $10 and umbrellas for $20 each and I figured that it doesn’t make sense to pay $20 for a basic umbrella, so we got two chairs and we parked our things there. Hours later, I noticed that despite my attempts to shield the sun’s rays from reaching my skin by cocooning myself in a towel, I was unsuccessful and I ended up being as charred as a marshmallow sitting in a bonfire for 35 minutes on s’mores night.
Hours later, we explored the island some more, grabbed some food, and then returned the rental car for our trip back home. Within 10 hours of our arrival on the island, we were on a flight back home, except that we were more satisfied, more entertained, more enlightened and more burnt than we were when we first landed!
Thank you, Puerto Rico– we’ll be back soon, and next time I’ll splurge and get the the umbrella!
** The basketball game didn’t quite go that way, but I’m telling the story, so I can create my own reality when it comes to the game.
My most ambitious goal to-date has been to greatly affect the the world in a positive way. When I thought of a strategy to do this, I decided that I wanted to provide value to those who multiply value to others. Therefore, if I provide value to people who are passionate about making a positive change in the world, then those people will be equipped and inspired to make a difference in the lives of countless other people. My way of providing value to these people was to create the brand Peculiar PPL.
When I created the company, it was a bit unorthodox in its approach because was never about the products— it was all about the people. So, to make this crystal clear and to ensure that I always remained focused on the people, named the brand after the people that it serves— Peculiar PPL.
I’ve always had a hard time articulating this mission, so recently I wore one of my favorite Peculiar PPL dress shirts, set up a video camera and spoke about the company. After about an hour of recording, I realized two things: 1) It’s odd (and oddly entertaining) to speak to an imaginary person in front of a camera, and 2) I love the Peculiar PPL brand…a lot!
Before this video officially hits the public, I wanted to share it with you! Here is my brief video about the brand Peculiar PPL!
The last time that I tried to go on a vacation, I had a little run-in with a lawnmower, so I needed a do-over. But instead of just going to San Francisco, I wanted to pack three other destinations into the same trip. So at the end of June, I went on a trip with four destinations in mind: San Francisco, San Diego, Los Angeles and Las Vegas.
Rather than writing extensively about my vacation, I’d rather show you. Here is a new episode of Geremy’s Peculiar Life, which features some scenes from my vacation to the West Coast!
Drive to work, do office work, drive to house, do handyman work, drive home, sleep, **repeat everyday for a month**. My full-time job didn’t really allow for several weeks of “apartment reconstruction” vacation time, so I spent every day from 7pm to midnight working on a host of repairs in my recently destroyed apartment. From installing a new toilet to wiring and installing new baseboard heaters without pulverizing myself, my to-do list was extensive and expensive! Luckily, with the help of a few good friends who helped me remove trash from the apartment and repaint several bedrooms, I was able to get a lot of work done in record timing. A month and a half later, the place was good to go once again, but I still didn’t have a tenant.
One day, I posted a simple ad on craigslist and within 24 hours I had over 50 people who were eager to view the unit. Since I didn’t a lot of time to show the apartment each day, I scheduled every prospective tenant for either 6:30pm or 6:45pm. Then I spent 6:30-7pm giving tours of the apartment while reciting my speech and carefully crafted choreography.
Most of the apartment showings were relatively mundane, until Sammy. Sammy called me to view the apartment, but couldn’t speak English very well. Somehow he understood the times that I was showing the unit and he came over on his bike…drunk. It was amazing to see how he was able to keep his balance as he rode down the middle of the street with a few cars following behind him—he must have had a lot of practice. He took two steps into the apartment and muttered “itakeit!” I said, “excuse me?” He said, “I like it. I take it.” I was confused about how he decided that he liked the place without even seeing a single bedroom, but I decided to humor him. I gave him an application and told him to bring it back tomorrow with the application fee if he’s serious. He took the application and said “I take it” and stood there. I think that he wanted to move into the place immediately. I said “you need an application to take it! He said “yes. I take it.” I didn’t know what else to say to him. I told him once again to take the application and come back tomorrow.” He finally left, stumbled down the steps, and struggled to get on his bike for about two minutes before he finally mounted it and rode away all zig-zaggily. He then proceeded to call me back everyday at 6:07pm saying “I take it” and nothing else.
After almost two months, I narrowed the list of applicants down to two families that I extensively screened. I wanted to make sure that I didn’t get burned with a bad tenant again, so I required more information than ever before. I requested the application, a credit check, a lock of their firstborn child’s hair, a copy of their third and sixth grade report cards, and a single drop of blood. One applicant passed every single test and had highly favorable references so I offered the place to them and they enthusiastically accepted. Finally!!!! I found a new [hopefully wonderful] tenant that ended this trilogy of stress!
Throughout these challenging months, I learned a lot of lessons that I will carry with me for the rest of my life:
– Difficult situations are inevitable and you can’t control them, but you can control your response to them. Your response to those situations will determine if you’re a winner or a winer.
– In difficult times, we fly our true colors. Otherwise calm people freak out after an accident. Nice people turn ugly when confronted. Braggarts shrink in the face of danger. You’re not made in a crisis…you’re revealed.
– Sometimes it takes stressful situations and adversity to create success.
– It doesn’t matter how much milk you spill, as long as you don’t lose your cow!
I gained more experience and learned more life lessons over those months than any other 8 month period in my life! Although it wasn’t fun to go through challenges in several different areas of life concurrently, I know that I’m a better, stronger person as a result of it (even if it means that I grew a few gray hairs in the process)!
“Mister Geremy, I’m sorry, I won’t have this months’ rent, or next month’s, or the next month’s because my car didn’t have gas this morning.” This was the phone call that I received from my newest tenant who had been living in my apartment for a month and a half. “I’m sorry, I don’t understand how those two things are related,” I responded. “Because my husband came home drunk last night and my kids get their report cards tomorrow morning.” Apparently this lady is a world champ at non sequiturs! “I’m sorry, I still don’t understand. I’m on my way over to the house right now, and you can explain it to me in-person.”
I arrived at the house 20 minutes later and I rang the doorbell to the apartment. She walked over to the window to see who was at the door and after making eye contact, she quickly dropped to the floor and peeked at me as if she was invisible. I continued to stare at her for about 30 more seconds and then I said, “I can still see you. Can you open the door?” That’s when she got up, took off the lights, and walked back to the window to see if I was still there. I was.
I opened the front door of the house that I own and knocked on the apartment door that I own, which can be opened by a key that I owned and had in my pocket. Unfortunately the law prohibited me from opening my door of my house to get my rent from my tenant, so I had to stand there and continue to politely ask her to open the door. She never let me in, so I left—annoyed.
Instead of going home, I went to the courthouse to immediately initiate the eviction proceedings. The papers were filed in 10 minutes, but unfortunately this was the quickest part of the 6 month process to get a tenant fully evicted in New Jersey. Three months later, I had my court date where I faced a judge to plead my case for why I deserved the rent that I was obligated to.
If a tenant doesn’t show up to a landlord/tenant court case, the landlord automatically wins, so I was hoping for that outcome in my case. When they called my name, I followed their directions and shouted out, “landlord present!” Then I waited for my tenant to say “tenant present…” coupled with her usual irrelevant statement, like “my grandmother had a dog.” But luckily for me, she never showed up and I won!
I happily moonwalked over to cashier and paid for the eviction, but things didn’t go as expected. When she handed me the receipt, I said, “should I go over to the apartment and wait for you to lock them out, or…” She said, “in six weeks, a court officer will call you to make an appointment to do the lockout two weeks after.” I did the math in my head—six weeks equals a month and a half. A month and a half means one and a half more months of rent that I don’t receive. No bueno!
While I waited for judgment day to arrive, the tenant took things into her own hands…more specifically, a hammer— she took a hammer into her own hands and she used that hammer to destroy everything in the apartment. The walls that I paid a painter a lot of money to paint were all destroyed. The new carpets that I installed a few months earlier were ruined by wax and permanent markers. The appliances that were practically new were now busted and nearly unusable. She even smashed the carbon monoxide detector…what did the carbon monoxide detector do to deserve that?!?
After she wreaked havoc on the poor apartment, she called the township inspector and said that the apartment was in unhabitable condition. He inspected the apartment and gave me a list of violations that would put DMX’s rap sheet to shame. When I explained the situation, he said, “there’s nothing that I can do. You have a week to fix the violations.”
I had one week to renovate an entire apartment that I couldn’t legally gain access to. That’s when I decided to try one more unorthodox method. I went to the apartment and I knocked on the door once. When she asked, “who is it?” I said “hola” in a high-pitched voice. She finally opened the door and I said, “why are you doing this?” She said “I had your rent but then the cotton candy machine.” I was so confused that I got an instant headache trying to comprehend the nonsensical statement. I said, “I need to conduct a safety inspection of the apartment and you either need to pay the 5 months’ rent or move out within a week.” She said “no thank you” and shut the door. I didn’t even give her “no thank you” as an option!
I was able to delay the township inspection by another two weeks and I accelerated the lockout by two week. All of a sudden on the day of the lockout, a judge called my cell phone (this is never a good sign) and requested that I come down to the courthouse within 20 minutes for an emergency hearing. When I got to the courthouse (and waited 5 hours in the middle of the workday), the judge gave the tenant another 2 weeks to come up with the $6,500 that she owed me. After the court case, she said to me, “can you accept $300 instead of the $6,500? I have a sister who owns a rice cooker.” Wait, what?!? How does that even make sense? No. Two weeks later, the tenant didn’t have the money so the judge officially ordered for her to move out within 24 hours. I gave her an extra 72 hours to ensure that she had enough time to properly pack and move, even though at this point she owed me over $7,000.
When I finally got to see the apartment, it looked like a real-life train wreck. The walls were battered and bruised, electrical components didn’t work, and worst of all, the place smelled like dead everythings. This was the current state of my apartment and if I had any hopes of ever renting it out again, I had to get it back into livable condition quickly. This is when the third chapter of “the trilogy of stress” began…
What do you get when you combine an irresponsible tenant, a comprehensive IRS audit, three curious township inspectors, and an inconsistent web server that threatens the existence of your online business? You get the great Trilogy of Stress that plagued my life during the first half of this year! Over the next three entries, I will explain the three situations that converged to create back-to-back excitement and stress in my life over the past few months.
I remember the day exactly! The morning was great, which was mostly due to the delicious bowl of Honey Bunches of Oats that I had for breakfast. Then when noontime came, I took a quick trip home to see if my Amazon.com package was delivered. I checked the mailbox and I didn’t see the package that I was waiting for, but instead I found a letter that I hoped that I would never, ever, ever, ever, ever get. The world immediately paused, my vision blurred, and I started sweating like a pig in a bacon factory. I held the dreaded letter in front of my face and re-read the name of the sender several times to make sure that I was seeing correctly.
The Department of Treasury – Internal Revenue Service.
I didn’t order anything from them, so this couldn’t be for me. Do they have the correct Geremy? Is this a second refund check? Are they congratulating me on how much taxes I’ve paid so far?
I opened the letter and the exact wording is a little hazy in my mind now, but here’s the gist of it:
Congratulations! You have been selected as the lucky recipient of an IRS examination audit from 2010 through 2013! Now fasten your seatbelt because you are in for a fun, scary ride with your IRS agent! Be sure to cooperate, otherwise that new, shiny Tesla that you bought the other day will be ours.
Your friend the IRS
I immediately ran inside and called the agent to politely decline their invitation to the audit, but unfortunately this was not an option that was available to me. Instead, he explained that I needed to gather a few pieces of documentation and present them in a meeting scheduled to take place in a few weeks. The documentation that he requested included:
- 1. Receipts from every single business related expense from each of my three businesses
- 2. Every single receipt, check, and expense from my house
- 3. Every single source of income received over the past few years (including that time that my sister gave me $10 to buy her a passion tea lemonade from Starbucks)
- 4. Every single bank record for the past few years, including deposit statements and cancelled checks
- 5. Every record of every business mile that I’ve ever driven, including a short description of why it was a business mile
- 6. My diary of my innermost thoughts and feelings from 1988 through 1999, including that part when my best friend died and I cried.
I didn’t know where to start, so I immediately thought, “well…I guess I’m going to jail!” But then I realized that there is no place for a long-eyelashed guy like me in jail, so I regrouped and formed a plan. Instead of outsourcing the entire task to an accountant to reverse-engineer my tax returns, I was determined to find every document that they requested and use the entire situation as a learning experience.
I came up with a plan of finding all existing records and getting copies of records that I lost or never received. This plan required many, many long nights, and lots of help from my amazing team of assistants. The assistants called every place where I’ve spent money over the past 4 years and they sent scanned copies of each receipt for my records. While they did that, I crazily ran around and ravaged the house looking for every document that I’ve ever received.
When the day came for the dreaded meeting, I expected to meet with a man who was 7 foot 19 inches tall with a loud booming voice and brass knuckles that he wore at all times. I also expected him to randomly punch me in the face every few minutes while yelling “TAKE IT LIKE A MAN,” but luckily I was wrong. The agent was my age, quite pleasant, and he completed the entire audit in about 45 minutes. At the end, he printed a summary of the examination, requested a few more documents and he sent me on my way. Just like that, the incident that stressed me out for months was over in under an hour with a relatively favorable outcome! Best of all, I didn’t get punched in the face, they didn’t steal my car from me, and I didn’t go to jail to become the boytoy of some guy who is infatuated with eyelashes.
That morning I drove home and let out a huge sigh of relief that I survived the process without any bruises, but then everything changed when I received a phone call regarding my newest tenant who was determined to make my life into a nightmare…
For today’s “Throwback Thursday,” I am posting a video that I never released because of the fear that I was violating some type of law. Now that the statute of limitations has likely expired and possible negative repercussions stemming from this incident are slim, I feel comfortable releasing it. Happy Throwback Thursday, boys and girls.