My name is Juan Alanis. Well, actually my full name is San Juan Martin Alanis Maldonado Turrubiartez Torres. Wow! That’s a mouthful I know. What can I say? I’m Mexican and I was born on the day of St. John the Baptist. In Mexico that means your name is automatically selected for you… or at the very least that there is a 50-50 chance your name might end up being something straight out of a religious calendar. Mine was, and that set the wheels in motion for a lifetime of mispronunciations. I’ll be honest, at first it was embarrassing to hear my teachers trying to pronounce my name in English and never being able to do so successfully. I’d often wish my parents had named me something simpler like Marco, Ruben, Alvaro, even Jose, anything that people could say without having to ask me or trying to translate my name (hence my disdain for being called John). Not that there is anything wrong with that name, only that it is not my own.
I grew up in the Rio Grande Valley area of Texas in a little town called McCook, about an hour away from the U.S.-Mexico border, and spent most of my summers growing up in Cerritos, San Luis Potosi, Mexico, where both my parents are from. We didn’t have any running water or electricity there and the labor of having to make do with what we did have (agua de los arroyos and leña for the fire) made us all appreciate the little we did have on this side of the border. My parents immigrated to this country de mojados and it wasn’t until they were able to gain their legal residency under the Reagan administration that we were able to venture away from the valley and into the city: Houston, Texas to be precise.
We came with all we could fit into our carrito – the Chocolate we use to call it – including our rooster believe it or not, and here in Houston is where we experienced our firsts in many things. My parents and my two elder sisters worked hard in whatever they could get work in to pay for our little apartments, then eventually our first little house. We were a family of little means, but lots of love. All nine of us did everything together, creating thousands of now very cherished and hilarious memories, and our lives continue to be very united to this day. I was the first in my family to graduate from college, along with one of my sisters who walked ahead of me in the same commencement ceremony, and have since worked mostly writing, from journalism to public relations, and now this blog: Juan of Words. Some of the publications I’ve worked with include the Houston Chronicle, the San Antonio Express News, Texas Travel Guide, La Prensa Grafica of El Salvador, Rumbo Newspapers, and organizations like the Association for the Advancement of Mexican Americans, the City of Houston, Univision News Network, The Salvation Army, Reliv, etc.
Now all “grown up” I’m married to Anjelica, my beautiful and very supportive wife, and am a proud parent to my little Edgar, who is really growing up very fast right before our eyes. I blog about my life – past, present and future, as well as other topics most easily classified under the Hispanic Lifestyle umbrella, but by no means exclusive for only a Latino audience. I’m proud of where I’ve been and where I come from, and am also the first to admit that I am definitely still learning, making mistakes, falling, getting back up, and trying my best to make sense of it all through my writing.
I love reader mail and welcome conversations all of the time. Thank you very much for stopping by! I hope you’ll keep coming back.