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On This Day

10 Horas en Puerto Rico

Geremy Goes to Puerto Rico

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.

Puerto Rico Weekend Trip
Puerto Rico Weekend Trip
Trip to Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico Weekend Trip

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!

Puerto Rico Weekend Trip
Puerto Rico Weekend Trip
Puerto Rico Weekend Trip
Puerto Rico Weekend Trip
Puerto Rico Weekend Trip

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.
Puerto Rico Weekend Trip

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!

Puerto Rico Weekend Trip
Puerto Rico Weekend Trip
Puerto Rico Weekend Trip
Puerto Rico Weekend Trip
Puerto Rico Weekend Trip
Puerto Rico Weekend Trip

Thank you, Puerto Rico– we’ll be back soon, and next time I’ll splurge and get the the umbrella!

Watch what happened the last time I went to Puerto Rico

** 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.

The Peculiar Mission

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!

Geremy’s Peculiar Life: The West Coast Vacation

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!

The 2014 Trilogy of Stress: Part 3

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)!

The 2014 Trilogy of Stress: Part 2

“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…