Hi. My name is Ailen J. Arreaza.
In my life, I’ve attempted to: take up ice skating; write poetry on a regular basis; dress professionally; run cross-country; play the flute and piano; get to the end of Monopoly; wear heels for an entire evening without tripping; put on make up every morning; finish a crossword puzzle; read Don Quixote in its entirety; sing in tune; impress someone important at a party; follow a reality TV show for a whole season; speak French; learn to dance; iron my husband’s shirts; save money; and ski in the Andes.
I have either quit or failed miserably at all of the above.
On July 2, 2009, I gave birth to a beautiful baby boy named Lucas. Since then, I’ve been generally trying to finish what I start, set some goals, and make more sensible decisions. So far, I’ve learned which knob controls which burner on the stove, and I no longer believe that continuing to buy new underwear is the most fiscally responsible way to deal with laundry.
Aside from aspiring to someday act like a real human person, I like to spend time with friends and family, watch movies devoid of action scenes, eat good food, and assign people nicknames.
This is my husband Ton Ton:
That whole opposites attract thing may be a cliché, but it totally works in our marriage. Ton Ton’s favorite thing in the whole world is to make plans and see them through fruition. He also likes to take baths with his son, is obsessed with the cleaning and maintenance of our hardwood floors, plays a mean guitar, has Type I diabetes, used to think Sponge Bob was a yellow tooth, and cries at the end of every chick flick he watches.
We’ve been together since 2003 and I would rather hang out with him than anyone else in the world. Except when he nags me for leaving my shoes on the living room floor.
My dad Uli:
My dad had an accident and passed away on November 28, 2009. It was, without a doubt, the worst day of my life.
He was funny and kind, and his only hobbies were to laugh and love his wife, kids, and grandson. I wish he could have laughed and loved a while longer.
Even though he is no longer here physically, he left a profound mark on all who knew him. His presence is often palpable, and he is a major character in this story.
Despite what her nickname may suggest, my mother is actually quite petite. It is her personality that takes up all the room in her house. Just ask Ton Ton about the time he got muddy footprints on her white carpet.
She is witty, opinionated, and has more than a few eccentric idiosyncrasies. For example, she shrieks with panic every time she sees a rodent on television; believes that everything her grandson touches needs to first be sterilized with boiling water; and refuses to pump her own gas.
Those morsels of crazy are, however, counteracted by an immeasurable passion for helping others, whether it be her children or complete strangers on the streets of Buenos Aires. She is almost naive in her total willingness to come to the rescue when anyone even mentions a problem.
And, she is the strongest woman person I know. Faced with the most devastating event of her life — the loss of her husband, she has remained rational, centered, rooted in her faith. An inspiration to everyone around her.
My mother in law, Mamacita:
Mamacita lives in Venezuela but likes to visit the United States for extended periods of time. She comes for three months so that she can spend two of them complaining about how much she misses home. She is elderly and has numerous health problems: high blood pressure, bad knees, osteoporosis, debilitated shoulders, etc. However, all of these ailments magically disappear whenever she sees a Clearance sign in a store. She can always run, leap, and even somersault for 75% off.
Family is the center of her life, and she is happiest she she’s surrounded by her four children, seven grandchildren, and two great grandchildren.
Ani, my brother:
He may be four years younger than me, but is five times wiser and more responsible. Patient enough to teach me how to drive when he was sixteen and I was twenty, and kind enough to simply laugh it off when I detached his car’s side mirror in the process, Ani is pretty much my favorite person in the world.
He has a, sometimes annoying, habit of only making rational decisions, possesses an incredible sense of direction, and always smells good.