So it’s official. We have kind of undergone a major facelift over at Juan of Words. I know it might have been a while since your last visit, which is why I thought I’d let you know. After years of using a very basic template to house all our content (for the past eight years), we felt it was time to give our home online a refresh. When we first started the website it was only a blog. Even though we have added much more to our plate since that first initial post, we just never got around to giving it much thought. Mucho menos the attention it needed to really do something a bit more contemporary. So our new home, you will notice, still includes all of the 800+ blog posts we have written over time, but it also now houses some of the newest things we are doing as well. For one thing, you can get a lot more up to date information and images from Anjelica and I on our new images section. You can also watch our latest videos from wherever we published them originally, right here in one single place.
One of the things we’ve always known about each other is that family comes first. I mean we met at my sister’s going away party when she was leaving Houston for D.C., all of 15 years ago now. From that moment on we have spent a lot of our time together around our extended family. Who would have imagined that what started as an awkward conversation in the dining hall of a Mexican restaurant, fueled by liquid courage in the form of margaritas, would have us here today, that many years wiser and more experienced. We were in our twenties when we first met so you can imagine the changes each of us has made over the past 15 years. But let’s be real, we’re still the same crazy pair of metiches we have always been. If anything, now we are much more crafty about our shenanigans.
I’m not sure how or why this new genre of music has caught my attention the way it has, but something about the rawness of it makes me want to listen more closely. To be honest, I didn’t even know this style of music existed until Cardi B. That probably tells you everything you want to know about my perspective in this discussion. But if you still want to continue reading anyway I sure do appreciate it very much. The other trap artist that’s on my playlist right now is Bad Bunny. Funny enough, both musicians are the “it” collaborators on so many different tracks – from JLO to Bruno Mars, Karol G, and so many others, in English and Spanish. You can hardly find a playlist or radio station on the air that’s not playing at least a small piece of something by either artist.
It’s been my home for the past 18 years. Houston, for me, is the place where I feel most comfortable. It is the city that took in a family of immigrants and opened doors for us, far beyond our wildest imaginations. It is the city where I met my wife, started a family, and eventually a business. For all intents and purposes, I guess you could say, it is my compass in the universe. The place I naturally gravitate towards no matter how far away I venture. To understand Houston, however, takes serious dedication. The burgeoning metropolis nestled amid bustling highways, byways and tollways, as well as incorporated and unincorporated annexes from the Gulf Coast to the hill country, is home to some six million residents from all over the world. The city was recently recognized as the most diverse in the United States and is well on its way to surpass Chicago as the third-largest in the country by population.
Austin is weird, and they are proud of it. Our neighbor to the north is home to the massive annual event that is SXSW, and each year, it is the place to be for anyone who is even remotely interested in technology and the wonderous possibilities of the future. I was there this year as an #HOUSxSw Ambassador on behalf of Station Houston and Houston Exponential representing Houston’s strong community of creators and innovators. If you’ve never been to Austin and are not familiar with the phrase “Keep Austin Weird,” the month of March during SXSW might be the perfect time to get familiar with this quirky part of Texas, which also happens to be the state capital. There is never a shortage of things to do in Austin, but during the massive annual event known as South by Southwest (SXSW) you can multiply your options by a couple dozen points of interest.
We don’t want to tell people about our family problems, the drinking, the mental illness, the trauma, the sense of sadness, and the feeling of loneliness we carry around with us all the time. Because as soon as the camera is pointed in our direction we’re smiling and posing ourselves to make sure the digital version of our lives is enviable and worth piquing the curiosity of others. We want to put our best foot forward always, even if the world around us is shattering to pieces. We’ve been trained to air our dirty laundry at home. To not give people a reason to second guess us as human beings, to not challenge the status quo because it could make the difference between getting that next opportunity in our careers or not. “Everything online is out there forever. You can’t take it back.” In doing so, however, we’re also denying ourselves the opportunity to be truly genuine with one another. More importantly, we’re failing to learn from each other and our respective mistakes.
Los caminos de la vida no son como yo pensaba. Como los imaginaba. No son como yo creía. The journey of life is not how I thought it would be. It’s not how I imagined it. It’s not what I thought it would be. This song came on the radio at one point while we were driving along the southern rim of the Grand Canyon a few weeks ago before the end of 2017, and it put everything into perspective. The last time I really listened to the lyrics of Los Caminos de la Vida by La Tropa Vallenata I was headed to the cemetery in the funeral procession for my father. I remember thinking then, that life is too short to not do the things we want to do. I wanted to bring my father to the Grand Canyon. He left before I ever could. His passing was one of those things in life that hit me like a ton of bricks. I never imagined his time with us would be cut short, or so soon. And yet it was.
We knew the road to financial independence would not be an easy one, and we expected to hit more than a few bumps on the road. What we didn’t expect was that our lack of knowledge on simple things like how to register our business for tax purposes could make such a huge difference at the end of the year. The self employment tax is no joke, let me tell you. But that’s the thing – we’ve realized – that nobody teaches you about this stuff in our community. At least not in our families or the education system we grew up in. I didn’t take an economics class until high school, and even then what we learned had little to do with everyday wealth-building techniques or practices, much less with building a long term financial legacy. Those are things we have had to learn on our own, not too often the easy way. I guess that’s why they call it the school of hard knocks, right?