Introduction to My Book

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Versión en español presione aquí

A couple of weeks ago I woke up with the idea of writing a book – I just have to write, and even though I’m not famous as Gabriel García Márquez, I’m certain he started by writing what he felt was good at the moment. So, let the writing begin!

The first idea I woke up with was not this one. But we know every idea changes or evolves until it turns into something perfect, or as close to perfect as it can be. The first question that popped into my mind was: What the hell will you write about, Lugo? The answer was simple: I will write about me, my life and my years living. Then, another question even more important: Why would anyone read a book about your life if you are not a celebrity of any kind? The answer was even simpler and may sound a bit poetic: Why wouldn’t someone read about my life? It may be interesting reading about my life. And, as a matter of fact, I truly believe it may.

ZorroWhere do I begin? That’s a complicated one. I think I should start from the beginning; starting by explaining what was happening in my parents’ life before I arrived in it. That’s the way Isabel Allende did in her book Zorro; she began by introducing the story of how Diego’s parents met so we could understand why little De la Vega wanted to fight for justice. I will then start from the beginning since I’m not George Lucas – starting at the middle may be fun, but then more complicated to explain.

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Photo from https://www.flickr.com/photos/rafy474/galleries/72157629854569082/

Mister Juan Antonio Lugo Pérez was born one April in the town of Cidra almost 60 years ago. He was raised in one poor place in the town called Barrio Sud, and he was the 8th in a list of 13 children my grandparents had. His parents were very poor, but that does not mean they were not educated. I know a lot of stories from my father’s childhood, a lot! For instance, at supper time, if someone visited their house, the meat was for the visit and literally, it was taken from his plate and given to the visit. My father, being the genius he grew up to be, every day as soon as that meat touch his plate, that was the first thing he ate, just in case someone wanted to visit, the meat was safe in his belly.

They did not always have meat to eat or even a food for everyone. Papi tells me that sometimes my grandmother used to make bacalao (fish) really salty. That way, while eating bacalao they had to drink lots of water thus getting full faster with less food. A good way to make sure everyone had something to eat. And God forbid, one of them dared to say they did not like the food or that it was not enough. In those case my grandfather started hitting them with his cap, or whatever he could find, while telling them: “¡Carajo, condenao cabezón afrentao!” (hard to translate).

Iglesia
Photo from https://www.flickr.com/photos/rafy474/galleries/72157629854569082/

My mother, Eileen Ivette Rivera Rolón, was born on August 4. Her childhood, even though she did not have food shortage, still was complicated. Mom was raised by her father’s mother. Her grandmother, Pancha Soto was since “Mami Pancha”, and her uncles and aunts are her brothers and sisters – you have no idea how hard this was to explain to my wife.

Her sisters, who are really her aunts since they are her father’s sisters (complicated right?) taught my mother a lot. But since they were at least 20 years older, mom was alone with abuela Pancha. Abuela was Pentecostal and mami learned about God at a young age. She went to Sunday school and Wednesday service, she sang the songs and played a mean tambourine with rhythm and style. Grandma also believed in strong punishment: none of that “go to the corner and thing about what you did” thing! Mom was raised with positive and strong believes that made her be the great woman she is and that helped us, her children, be who we are.

My parents met at a young age. I’m sure that the fact that my grandfather from my father’s side and my abuela Pancha were brothers had something to do with it. So, when I think about it, my parents were cousins, which explains a lot in terms of crazy (the good kind of crazy). They studied in the same public school and they had the same friends. But while mom studied, dad was goofing around or working as a shoe shiner for two cents (he bought his bread and banana with one cent and the other to his father).

Dad was not applied at school but he recently told me that abuela Pancha feed him with lots of energy and support. Mom did not have a choice other than to study, and she was more than fine with it. How did Juan and Eileen fall in love? The way people fall in love. That is the only explanation I have because I know a lot of stories about those two lovebirds, but I don’t remember hearing how they fell in love.

wpid-IMG_21911577428628.jpegOnce he graduated from high school, dad studied electricity and mom started studying education in college, even though she would have love to be a nurse. Mom did not finish her studies, and she regrets that a bit. Some years later, in 1978 my parents sent a letter to a stork and a beautiful and cold day in December, the first Lugo Rivera flew in: my brother and mentor for who yours truly, Juan Antonio. On May 1980 I arrived and on December 1983, this time closer to Christmas, another stork flew in with a beautiful baby girl, with an amazing smile and rebel hair: my sister who I love, and get chocked up with just by mentioning her, Jaleen Franceska.

If you noticed, my brother and my sister flew in, and I just arrived. They were planned, and I, as usual bothering and horsing around without an invitation. My parents told me that my arriving was a surprise (if you play with fire, you may get burned) in every sense. Even though there is no such thing as being prepared, at least you can plan and expect when to have children; it costs a lot and when the economy is not on your side the problem is bigger. So, hunger and misery joined forces – figuratively speaking – and here I am. Not only the time was bad, but the baby had problems digesting the milk and buying formula brand milk costs a lot. My pediatrician, Nanito (he is still a hero in Cidra) gave my parents a couple of boxes of canned milk and things got better. But I can now understand how hard that must have been.

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The Lugo Clan

Anyway, the Lugo clan – mom, dad, Junito, Franceska and myself – have thousands of stories and we have been through many situations. But we have learned and grown a lot. We have laughed together and cried alone, as have you, my dear reader. That does not make us special nor different; it makes us who we are. I don’t write so you can follow my path, but if you can improve yours based on what I write, then we all win.

Cosas buenas están supuestas a pasarme

English Version Click Here

En mi búsqueda de temas motivacionales in Internet me topé con el dicho “Cosas buenas están supuestas a pasarme”. Empecé a pensar un poco sobre eso y me pareció cierto; lo creí y lo acepté. ¿Comenzaron a pasarme cosas buenas? No. Di una mirada al pasado y descubrí que las cosas buenas vienen pasándome desde hace mucho. Y tomé la decisión de buscar y ver esas cosas buenas que me pasan.

Familia
Familia

El primer párrafo es más un resumen del punto que les quiero llevar. Déjame comenzar desde más atrás. Tuve una gran niñez. Tengo un hermano mayor que luce más joven que yo y una hermana menor que es igualita a mí (al menos eso dice la gente). Crecimos en una casa llena de amor, abrazos y una que otra pelea entre hermanos; nada fuera de lo normal. Tuve muchas amistades en la escuela y en el vecindario, y fui un niño muy feliz, en serio. Nunca sufrí de bullying en las escuela y cuando lo intentaban, siempre tenía un contestación inteligente para todo (aun lo hago y mucha gente lo odia).

Creciendo me di cuenta que la vida puede ser triste y en ocasiones injusta. Me daba cuenta cómo otras personas tenían sus vidas listas – o al menos eso parecía – y nada bueno me pasaba a mí o tardaba mucho tiempo en sucederme. Terminé la universidad y conocí a muchas personas en el camino, algunas de las cuales hoy son parte de mi familia. Aun así, pensaba que nunca me pasaban cosas buenas. La gente empezó a tener buenos trabajos, sus sueños comenzaban a hacerse realidad, y me sentía atascado; como si las oportunidades nunca tocaban mi puerta, se perdían de camino a mi casa.

Siempre he sido una persona positiva y un fiel creyente de que haciendo a la gente sonreír es una gran manera de calmar su dolor y de eliminar las penas. Eso ha funcionado para mí y al día de hoy sigue funcionando. Pero nunca estaba donde quería, donde se suponía que estuviera. Mientras crecía, nunca tuve un plan sobre dónde debía estar en mis 20s, 30s y así sucesivamente. Pero sabía lo que quería hacer y como no estaba haciéndolo me sentía que no había logrado nada.

Una cerveza por la amistad
Una cerveza por la amistad

Cerca de dos años atrás me di cuenta que lo había hecho todo al revés, y mis amigos y mi esposa – quizás sin saberlo – me ayudaron a darme cuenta. Por más de 10 años mantuve guardado un libreto para un stand-up comedy pero lo guardé porque la oportunidad para hacerlo nunca se me apreció. Estaba haciéndolo mal. Mis amigos me dieron el empujón y logré hacerlo. Finalmente estaba frente a un grupo de personas haciéndolos reír, reír mucho. Algo que siempre hago frente a mis amigos, finalmente lo hice frente a otros. Ahí me di cuenta que llevaba muchos años esperando que las cosas llegaran en lugar de salir a buscarlas.

(Mira el video aquí)

Comencé a ejercitarme y funcionó muy bien para mí. Mi confianza comenzó a crecer al igual que mi visión de vida. Miré al pasado y me di cuenta que muchísimas cosas buenas si me habían pasado; me habían estado pasando toda mi vida. Pero era yo quien me detenía a esperar que el sueño de mi vida apareciera de la nada, que tocara a mi puerta. Me di cuenta que todo lo que tenía en mi vida, bueno o malo, lo había conseguido con trabajo. Y realmente disfruté el camino hasta ahí. Claro que ser una persona positiva no me salvó de un divorcio ni de todas las cosas negativas que pasaron en mi vida. Pero ser positivo me ayudó a enfrentarlo todo y a lidiar con ellas en una mejor manera.

Nada más que decir
Nada más que decir

Mi punto es que las cosas buenas SI están supuestas a pasarte. Y te han estado pasando. Solo toma un momento y fíjate bien. Olvídate de lo que otros tienen y de esas oportunidades que nunca llegaron. Haz que la vida pase para ti. Si no hay una oportunidad para ti, ¡sal y haz que suceda! Si se cierra una puerta, asegúrate que la próxima vez la patees al entrar. No pierdas la fe en ti. Comienza haciendo esos pequeños cambios en ti y comienza a escuchar a las personas que te dicen que tienes verdadero potencial; al creer en lo que dicen te darás cuenta que tienen razón.

Puedes fracasar en aquello que no quieres,
así que por qué no arriesgarte a hacer lo que amas”.

Jim Carey

Recuerda que puedes seguirme en facebook.com/francolugooficial y en YouTube en youtube.com/c/FrancoLugoOficial. No olvides compartir este post.

Good Things Are Supposed To Happen To Me

Versión en español presione aquí

In my search for motivational stuff on the internet, I stumbled upon the quote “Good things are supposed to happen to me”. I started wondering and thinking about that, and I found it to be true; I believed it and embraced it. Did good things start happening to me? No. I looked back and realized they have been happening for quite some time. And I made the choice to try and look for the good things that happen to me.

Familia
Familia

That first paragraph is like the summary of the point I am trying to make. Let me go back a little bit and start over. I had a great childhood. I have an older brother who looks younger than me and a baby sister who looks just like me (or so people say). We grew up in a house full of love and hugs and occasional brother sister fights; nothing out of the ordinary. I had a lot of friends in school and in the neighborhood and I was a really happy child, really. I was never bullied in school and if I did I always had a clever answer for everything (still do to this day and some people hate it).

Growing up I realized life can sometimes be sad and unfair. I got to see how other people got life figured out -or so it seemed- and nothing good ever happened to me or it took too long to happen. I got through college and I met a lot of people in the process, some of which are my family now. But still, good things never happened to me. People started having great jobs, their dreams were starting to come true, and I felt stuck; like the opportunities never knocked on my door, they got lost on their way to my house.

I have always been a positive person and a true believer that making people smile is a great way to help ease their pain and lift heavy sorrow. And that worked for me and still does. But I was never where I wanted to be, where I was supposed to be. When I was a kid or growing up I never had a plan or schedule of where I wanted to be in my 20’s, 30’s and so on. But I knew what I wanted to do and since I was not doing it, I felt unaccomplished.

Friends over beer!
Friends over beer!

Two years or so ago I realized I had it all wrong, and my wife and friends – without them knowing – helped me figure that out. For years I keep a script for a stand-up comedy I wanted to make but I shelved it because the opportunity never appeared. I was looking at it all wrong. My friends helped me and I made it happen. Finally I was in front of a crowd making them laugh hard, really hard. Something I always do in front of my friends I was able to do in front of others. It was then when I realized I spent many years waiting for stuff to happen instead of going out there and making them happen.

(View video here)

I started exercising and that worked well too. My confidence started growing and so did my view of life. I looked back and realized wonderful things DID happen to me; they have been happening all my life. But it was me who stopped to wait for my dream life to appear out of thin air, to knock on my door. I realized that all I had in life, good and bad, I worked for it. And I did enjoy all the way there. Of course that being a positive person did not save me from a divorce or from all the bad stuff life threw in my face so many times. But it did help me face all of that stuff and deal with them in a better way.

Should I say more?
Should I say more?

My point is that good things are REALLY supposed to happen to you. And they have been happening. Just take a break and see it for yourself. Forget about what others have or the opportunities that never happen to you. Make life happen to you. If there is not an opportunity for you, go ahead and make it! If a door closes on you, make sure next time you kick it on your way in. Don’t quit on yourself. Start making those small changes on you and start listening to the people that tell you that there is potential; believing in what they say can help you realize is true.

You can fail at what you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance at doing what you love.
Jim Carey

Remembeer you can find me at facebook.com/francolugooficial and YouTube at youtube.com/c/FrancoLugoOficial. And share this post, will ya!

My second time (is not about sex)

It’s me again. Last Saturday I went back to Celebrate Puerto Rico to try one more time to make people laugh. The first time was awesome (still not talking about sex, even though that was the case too). This time I chose to use less jokes and do more stories of me and my childhood.

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A great place to be funny...

I had a problem with time. I had to the performance in no more than five minutes which added another pressure. The first time the time provided was the same, but I just rolled and did almost 13 minutes.
So you be the judge. Listen to it and laugh if you like it. Here is the link to the page. You can listen to it there, or you can download it for you to keep. My performance is at 57:10, but remember I’m not the only one there. So listen to all of it; you will enjoy it.

I did it!

I am back after just two weeks. I’m trying to have something to write every couple of weeks, and this time it worked. This time is to share some incredible news; something I’ve wanted to do for the last ten years. Finally, I did my Stand-up comedy routine.

Last Saturday (it all depends when you are reading this) I left the fear and the “what if” and I jumped to the stage and did my routine. Was I nervous? HELL YEAH! That made it even better when I was done. The feeling that I overcame that stupid fear, the taste of victory and the laughter of those people made it all better.

IMG_175917009450599I was ready for that night ten years ago. I even had something written, with punch lines and all. Fear walked with me all that time, but a couple of weeks ago I decided it was time to break free. There is this place in Old San Juan call Celébrate Puerto Rico, and Saturday nights are open mic. I visited the place a couple of weeks ago and I loved it. A place for everyone, laid back, no dress code and all fun. I saw routines from other people, and even though some were not good for my taste, I was still fun. I decided then it was my time to try it. I did and I loved it.

Before the show, I was scared and nervous, but once Chente called my name, it was different. Up there I forgot about everything and focused on the routine. I was supposed to be there for only five minutes that ended up being 12. Lots of laughs, screams, and a big round of applause told me that I did a great job.

IMG_3414Many of friends were there. Some of those have known since forever that I was going to do fine when I decided to do it. I was glad they were there with me to share that moment. And the ones who could not make it, called me and sent me good vibes.

And after the show was done, it was fun times with my friends. We were almost kicked out of the place. But it was an amazing night with laughs and friends. I may do it again in a month or so.

IMG_3411Here is the link for the podcast. My intervention is on 22:30, but you are welcome to listen to the whole thing (It is in Spanish, so sorry for those of you who can’t understand it). There are great people doing what they like to do: making people laugh. Hope you like it, and if you need me in a party or show, just call my agent (which means I will talk to my wife about it and she will decide for me).

To my folks

It has been a long couple of weeks since I last wrote in my blog. I ran out of ideas, and the Island is going through some bad times, and it will get worse. With those previous posts you have learned a bit about me and my reality. But today, it will be different; I will not write about my Island, or the funny things that make us who we are. Today is about my folks. “Los viejos” that have been with me since I saw the light 30-something years ago.

My mother is awesome. She suffered in her childhood (something I will not discuss now) but she always has great memories of her and her family. I remember when I was a kid, I used to sit at the door step and she sat behind me and play with my hair. On Saturdays when we were kids, she used to clean the whole house while doing laundry, making lunch for us and getting ready for dinner. She even got the manguera (water hose) inside and started cleaning everything. “No se bajen de esa cama ni por nada del mundo”, she said when we decided to stay in.

She raised two guys and a baby girl (my sister). When I look back, I can’t imagine how she managed to keep her sanity when she had a 13 year old boy, a 12 year old funny and handsome kid (me), and a 9 year old baby. I mean, I have an 8 year older and a 2 year old kid, and sometimes I want to run out screaming (my mom used to say the same thing, to the point that we knew when she was going to say it. It was not that funny back then).

She woke up around 5:30 am. She turned on the coffee pot, walked to the bathroom to wash her face and brush her teeth. Then she walked to our room around 6:00, me and my brother shared a room forever, to wake us up. She then walked to the kitchen to get her coffee and made another stop by our room. She started breakfast and then woke up my sister. She screamed at my brother and me on her way back, and we got up. We got our breakfast; we started getting ready for school while she started the morning fight with my sister over her hairdo. When my sister got older, I mean 19 or so, she was brushing my mother’s hair one day and just hit her with the brush, just for payback! She felt relieved to do that, because every morning in my house was fight day over a hairdo. I wish I could go back. The she would send us to school and get ready to go to work. And the next day, everything started all over again.wpid-IMG_21911577428628.jpeg

Many women did the same thing, and still do today, but that is still something hard to do. She didn’t even have time for herself, and I never heard her say she wanted time for herself. I guess we were everything for her, her routine, her sanity and craziness at the same time. I am a good father today in part for what she taught me back then, and for what she keeps teaching me every day. She even notices when I’m not doing great and gets so happy when I’m my usual self.

My father has always been there for us. He had a rougher childhood than my mother, but a whole lot of stories that make my day. He alwasys have been the funny one for me. My mom is crazy, she is, but my father usually takes it up a notch. They have been a wonderful team.

I don’t remember as a kid a fight or bad argument between them. I discovered later that those did happen, but we were lucky enough to never hear them. One of my greatest memories as a kid with my father is when he used to slide his belt through the bathroom door while I was sitting inside. I started screaming liked there was no tomorrow. My mom used to scream at him: “Déjalo quieto Juan, no lo molestes!” Or times when we used to sit in the couch and out of nowhere he started tickling me. And every time I sat with him just for the fun of it.

His work demanded a lot of time from him, and the time he spent on the road was a lot. So he was not there in the morning process I explained before, or if he was, he was sleeping because of the schedule he had. But we got to see him every day.

When we started growing up, I used to go with him and help him in anything he needed. And that time I really enjoyed because he taught me a lot, and many stories and sayings I know now, where born there. I met a lot of people, old and young, when I was with him, and when he had the idea of having a Laundromat, I was there every afternoon and every Saturday taking care of the business (place my mom did not like too much). It was a good time.

When I was 17, my dad had an argument with my sister, then with me and my mom, and one thing led to another, and he ended leaving the house. I get teary eyes just writing about this, since I never showed like it really mattered to me. My brother was already in college and my sister was about to finish middle school. It was a really hard time for us. We made up a couple of weeks after that, but he was not living at home anymore. So I had to make sure to spend time with him.

Years passed, fun continued and after the three of us moved out of the house, my folks decided to get back together. We were happy and kinda surprised, but since both of them are crazy, it made sense.

These memories are some I share with my brother and sister. I know they must have some of their own, but at the moment the three of us are now, I know we rather keep the happy ones. We are who we are, fun, weird and crazy, because of what they taught us. I sometimes take time to listen to myself speaking and I can see a lot of them in me. I guess that’s the point in being a son to such wonderful parents.

This post is just a THANK YOU to those two human beings who raised us. I know it was not easy for them; sometimes there was no money in the house to pay the bills but we always had food to eat and a bed to sleep in. I wish I can be half as good a father to my kids as they were to me. Half good is awesome anyway.13966_369542725446_8151787_n

Special Edition Post: Puerto Rico Shake

I have been out thinking about what to write for the past couple of weeks. Write something else about Christmas in Puerto Rico, maybe some family stuff; I was not sure about something that would make people read my post. But I got a signal dressed as an earthquake.

temblor_10Last Monday, January 13, at 12:01 a.m. – the first minute of the day – Puerto Rico shook, and according to the Richter scale, it did for 6.4 degrees. How long was that shaking for? I don’t have any idea, and I don’t really care. It was terrible, and to make matters worse, there was another one. The second one was as bad as the first, and people freaked out. Why did we freak out? Because it was scary. Why did we freak out as we did as still talking about it today, and tomorrow? Because we are Boricuas! And to say it in a different slang, because we roll like that!!!

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He was brought back. Don’t worry fans!

For us Boricuas this is something huge. Huge like an impeachment (long word?), huge like Batman getting a beating from Robin, huge like the dog that died in Family Guy. I mean, it’s HUGE. We have survived hurricanes, to the point where we laugh when we see people in the United States running like crazy to protect their houses in a simple mini storm. A hurricane for us is like a present in Christmas season for kids, we get them every single year. But the earth shaking like that!?!?!? That’s a different story.

Nobody can get ready for an earthquake. I mean, we don’t know when there arriving or where are they coming from; there is no way to know what to expect from them. Can we have a plan to deal with it when the occasion arrives? Yes, we can, but then again we are Boricuas. We tend to leave stuff to the last minute, and in the case of a shaking from hell, the last minute is when we are in the middle of it.

iPhoneThe reaction on the god forshaking (get it?) day was amazing. Social networks had the busiest day ever. People wrote the same thing for the first couple of minutes after the shake: “did the earth just shake?”, “Ay santo, esta mierda tembló (Oh Lord, this shit just shook)!” One of my friends even asked a neighbor if she was ok. I mean, can you walk out and ask face to face? You need to take your phone and start writing? But after a couple of minutes, the funny people got on board too: “After shake party at my house”, “Please God, don’t let my beer bottle be broken!”, and stuff like that.

And God comes back into our lives. People start praying more and asking for blessings and thanking God for keeping us away from harm. And other people get mad because those Christians only remember God when something happens, and the atheists get mad because there is no God and we should not be thanking something that does not exist and never will. It’s a funny thing to read!!! Even the news channels have the topic for a couple of days and we get brochures and emails on how to deal with an earthquake in our respective jobs.

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Yes, Mr. Heisenberg, the earth was shaking!

Personally, I did not feel the shake. I was watching Breaking Bad, at it was a good episode that required all my attention. But I was working three years ago when on Christmas Eve the earth decided to shake. That was really scary for me and all of my co-workers. And we spoke about it for days, and now that this new one happened, we bring it back. We all remember where we were on 9-11, and everyone in Puerto Rico remembers where they were during this last shake.

My family and I, and I know it’s the same for many families in the Island, will work on an emergency plan so in the future this kind of thing don’t get us con los calzones abajo (without our pants). It is something we all have to do because we have to be ready for this kind of surprise. And things work better when we plan ahead. But we can’t deny it has been a couple of crazy days and all this shaking talk. The only shake we should be doing is the one in Harlem. Until next time, cójanlo suave!

P.S. Here is a link of a news station in Perú that reported the earthquake in their morning show. The visuals they used is not from Puerto Rico. In fact, it’s from an earthquake that happened a couple of years ago somewhere else. They even say the visuals are from what happened. I guess my country is not the only one full of crazy people!