Unless you’ve been to Bentonville, it’s hard to put into perspective the experience of visiting Arkansas’s fastest-growing metro area. Located in the foothills of the Ozarks and bustling with business and entrepreneurship, this once sleepy little town with a population of no more than 30, today still feels like a modern-day version of the movie Pleasantville, with its white picket fences and pristine neighborhoods surrounding the heart of Bentonville’s community – its historical Downtown Square. In the 1880s the square served as a watering place for livestock. In 1901 Bentonville shipped one-half million bushels of apples from it bounty of apple trees, which according to the U.S. Census Bureau at that time accounted for the largest number of bearing apple trees of any county in the United States. Eventually the city of Bentonville expanded around its Downtown Square and today more than 45,000 call this community in Northwest Arkansas home.
There’s history in Orange Beach. We could tell as soon as we drove into this surprisingly unexpected corner of the Gulf Coast. Its location is right at the point where Alabama and Florida connect. If you’re not careful you could end up crossing state lines without even noticing. We did and for a moment it felt like we were driving right back into Florida after having bid farewell to the Sunshine State just a few minutes earlier. If you have ever driven the entire length of the Sunshine State, you will appreciate why the thought of being back in Florida after having just exited the state would be more than a little nerve-wrecking. Luckily for us, we were in fact in Alabama.
There’s something about driving a pickup truck that just makes you feel like a Texan. People look at you differently. It says something about you, and there’s a certain sense of pride that comes attached with the keys when they are in your hands. Don’t believe me? Try it and tell me I’m wrong. I have always been a sucker for big trucks with a lot of power so it was only natural that the brand new 2018 Chevrolet Silverado High Country would win my heart over as soon as it arrived at my driveway a few weeks ago. All of five minutes later ya yo estaba en ¡MI TROCA! Notice how I claimed it as mine immediately. Two seconds after that I was cruising down my neighborhood all pumped up about how nice the interior of the truck was as well. I mean, it came equipped with the works. You remember how you used to drive around in your very first car hoping to run into people you knew so they could see you in your new car? Well yeah, that was basically me the whole time the truck was here. It was very, very nice.
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.
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.