A scientist and inventor, my dad always tried to encourage curiosity and answer my never-ending parade of questions. He is the reason I believe that answers nearly always exist and are just a matter of effort. Honest, quiet, independent, and hard working, my dad makes few excuses, takes pride in his work, and prefers to let his actions speak for him - all qualities that I've tried to emulate. He likes handyman projects and is always building something around the house. When my sister and I were little, he built an entire jungle gym in the hallway of our apartment in Russia.
My mom is friendly and talkative, but is also incredibly determined and hard working. My mom made sure that when I was little I did the necessary work and enjoyed doing it. While my dad added inspiration, my mom's efforts were essential for making me who I am. She is the action taker in the family and is disproportionally responsible for many of our vacations, moves, and our ultimate immigration to the United States, not to mention the day-to-day tasks that keep the household together. Her passion lies in art, theater, and dance, though you may become convinced it's taxes.
My dad is the quiet intellectual type. He's a man of few words, but when he has something to say, it's always VERY IMPORTANT. He's an aerospace engineer by day and an artist, graphic designer, chef, and stock-trader by night. There was never anything that my dad couldn't do. When I was a kid, he used to make me spaceships and palaces out of cardboard boxes, mechanize my legos for me and put motors into my Happy-meal boats so that I could sail them in Spreckles lake. For my dad, anything that I wanted was always possible. All I had to do was go to him and he would find a way to make it happen. I never thought that there'd be another guy in this universe who would ever be as special to me as my dad, but Ilia surprised me! He reminds me of my dad in many ways - he's smart, he's quiet, he's sweet, and most importantly, he listens to my dreams and is not entirely opposed to making even the wildest of them into a reality.
My mom is the source of my creative, spunky, wild-side, my belief in justice, and the side of me that refuses to cave-in when other people tell me that something is impossible.
She's never afraid to speak her mind and is a strong advocate for causes that she believes in. She will walk through fire to see things through and never lets other people discourage her.
My mom thrives on the challenge of proving that the impossible can be done. She teaches citizenship by day and does tap dancing, hula, and plays the ukelele on nights and weekends. She's an amazing seamstress (who tailored all of my bridesmaid dresses), bargain-hunter and pragmatist, not to mention one of the best partners in adventure that a little girl could have for a mom.
She always planned treasure hunts for me and my friends, and took us on outings, hikes and to museums.
She's also very clever. When I was a little kid, she got me to beg her to let me to wash dishes and vaccuum the floor. She would made it look like she was having so much fun doing it, and then when I asked if I could try, she would say that she would let me, but only if I was REALLY GOOD. (so on top of washing dishes and vacuuming the floor for her, I had to be REALLY GOOD to sustain my privilege of getting to clean house)
If I am even half as clever, fun or wonderful as she was as a mom, I will consider myself extremely successful.
Jon and I have known each other since the beginning of our Cornell days. Jon's rare blend of intelligence, moral fortitude, skepticism, hope, and pragmatism makes interacting with him a treat. His occasional seriousness leads to humorous situations, but his approach is always genuine and commands respect from those who know him. I am proud to have him as one of my best friends.
Miranda & I first met in Professor Lubman's Chinese Law class at Boalt Hall at UC Berkeley. We became friends studying for finals together at Reverie cafe and later formed a weekly habbit of dining out at E&O Trading Co. and having parties on my Castro apartment rooftop back in the Ben & Aiden days. She went down to LA for an eternity after graduation, but is thankfully moving back up to San Francisco for good now!
A year ago, Miranda surprised me for my birthday. She and Daniel drove up to San Francisco and jumped out of the woodwork at Kokkari after Ilia asked me to meet him there for dinner. AND she didn't stop there! To top it off, she got me trapeze lessons which I have been saving up for a special occassion.
Miranda was part of the hard-working crew who helped me paint my room with red walls and dragons, not to mention the fine painstaking detail of carefully painting the ladder rungs after helping me mix the perfect shade of lavender that matched a Japanese Hokusai painting that inspired the colors for my room.
It was because of Miranda that I finished 95% of my wedding planning the week that Ilia proposed to me. She ran around the city with me, helped me pick out bridesmaid dresses, looked at invitation samples with me, and basically helped me get everything sorted out before she took off a week later.
Can't wait till you're here for good! Thanks for all of your support! You're the BEST!
I met Naysen at Hewlett Packard. Forever an aspiring eccentric, he was a part of my Sacramento friend circle that I most enjoyed having in-depth conversations with. It's rare for me to hear him talk and not get tingle of joy that comes with hearing someone else genuinely wrestle with questions dear to you. Don't let my jokes stop you good friend.
Jen and I first met when we were competing against one another at the collegiate wushu tournament in Stanford. Actually, back then, I didn't really KNOW Jen, I just knew OF her. She always stepped into the ring with confidence and when her opponents saw her form, she inspired them to rise to the occassion, setting the bar at a higher standard and beckoning a worthy opponent to step up to the challenge.
Years later, my former wushu coach from Wisconsin was offered a post-doc at UCSF, so he moved to San Francisco and started a wushu club on campus and invited me to practice with him there.
At the same time, Jen had started her PhD in neuroscience at UCSF, so she joined the club as well and that's where we really met and where we really became friends.
After practice, we would always go back to Jen's place for Vitamin Water and cheap wine. We would watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel and Firefly, and talk for hours. We did our last wushu tournament back in 2004 or 2005 and no longer compete in the martial arts competition circuit.
Today, Jen and I do parkour together instead. Jen can jump over, under and onto just about anything. She's an incredible inspiration and stunningly fearless. It was because of Jen that I did my first successful 7-foot precision jump onto a narrow ledge, that I finally nailed that wall run down at the Art Institute, and that I learned how to dive-roll and did my first kong over a wall this afternoon. Jen has definitely been my parkour inspiration.
Not only is Jen a talented neuroscientist and traceuse, she also plays the violin and has offered to play the violin for our wedding. Thanks Jen!!!! You're the best!
Umung was the first person I met at Cornell and has been one of the constants in my life ever since. Together we've explored the beauty of California, had countless discussions on a variety of topics, and enjoyed San Francisco together as roommates.
Jackie and I met back in high school. She was my Sunday School buddy and she and I used to walk down to Zephyr during church breaks to drink tea and talk about boys and movie stars. That was how our friendship began.
From there, we travelled to Los Angeles together when I went there for undergrad at UCLA and she and I explored all of the little nooks and crannies from Hollywood to the Garmet District.
Jackie is a phenomenal writer, photographer and toy collector. She and I share the same birthdate and have been friends of almost a decade and a half.
Jackie has offered to do the photography for the reception half of our wedding and brings with her a substantial amount of wedding photography experience as she interned with a prominent wedding photographer for over a year and has since started her own wedding and portrait photography company.
By day, Jackie is a technical writer at Genentech, but hones her skills in photography on nights and weekends while taking a creative writing class at USF. She aspires to become a literary author and is one of the hardest-working rennaissance women that I know. Thanks for being a part of our wedding party, Jackie!
Josh and I met at our college fraternity. It's hard to imagine someone fit a fraternity stereotype less than Josh. A kind-hearted rebel, environmentalist, adventurer, and writer, Josh routinely pursues difficult paths, never boasting or complaining. He uses the same calm, methodical approach for everything from arguments to backpacking. Without him, I might have never met Michelle or many of my San Francisco friends.
I first met Lauren four years ago. Since then, I've seen her develop into a talented hip-hop dancer, an incredible make-up artist, a career-minded woman, and a girl with a definite sense of style (not to mention the coolest hair on this planet!)
Lauren helped me plan and host the 2008 Teflon Chef Competition, has volunteered her time to help Ilia promote BoxCycle, and has always been up for playing along with Ilia's and my wacky ideas.
She even offered to help do the flowers for our wedding! GO LAUREN!!!!!
Lauren, you've been an awesome friend to me and Ilia. Thanks for all of your love and support and for being a part of our big day!
Sachin was one of the first people I met in California and was among my closest friends during my years in Sacramento. His work ethic, unique knowledge and experience, and lofty goals together with just the right level of goofiness make knowing him a pleasure. I am so glad he has found his way to the Bay Area.
Geri and I met each other while standing in line to audition for "Survivor".
I borrowed a pen from her to fill out my application and since we I forgot one, and we ended up talking for hours since the audition line was super long.
Although we didn't get onto Survivor, we got to be really good friends and went on to train for and run our first marathon together later that year.
The following year, we rode our first Cinderella century ride together and subsequently participated in the "Urban Dare" in San Francisco.
Geri and I now do parkour and African-Haitian dance. She has always been my sports-buddy and I don't know what I ever would have done without her.
The funny thing is, with Geri, I can run 26 miles and not notice how tired my body is getting, but one mile alone and I'm ready to give up. Geri, thanks for being my race-buddy, baking-pal and just for being there for me all those times that we've hung out and had so much fun together! If it weren't for you, I'd probably never have tried any of the sports that we've done since we met! Thanks for keeping me in shape and being such a great inspiration to all of us!
When Dana and I first met, we connected so well that some of our friends joked that we should get married. While we have as many differences as similarities, I can't help but see a part of myself in Dana. Our 'connection' aside, Dana is an honest and interesting friend and, perhaps surprisingly, one of the few people I talk to about programming or entrepreneurship.
Laura and I have known each other since kindergarten. We went to the same elementary school, middle school, high school and undergraduate at UCLA where we were roomates.
From our weekly "Twin Peaks" get-togethers to our Paula Abdul choreographies and singing songs from "The Little Mermaid" together . . . to our Harry Connick Jr. and Frank Sinatra days . . . Laura's always been there to support my crazy fantasies (even when they involved throwing minature teddy bears into an ice cream float). Laura was my treasure hunt partner, and of my closest my confidents and friends while we were in middle school, high school and college. Thanks for being there for me for all those years, Laura! My childhood and high school years would definitely have been far less fun without you!
Eva is the daughter of Ilia's cousins Natasha & Rajiv. She will be travelling all the way from New Jersey to be our flower girl! Thanks Eva!
Zoey is the dauther of Ilia's sister Diana and his brother-in-law Tim. Zoey will be coming all the way from Florida to be our flower girl. Thanks, Zoey!
Dante is the son of my good friend Mimi whom I've known since 6th grade. Mimi and I used to walk home from school together every day. We would always buy bagel chips and Nestle crunch bars to eat on the way home, play monopoly at her house and then she would ride me home on the back of her bike after a game of ping pong or tennis. Those were the good old middle school days way back when we were kids! Now Mimi's got 2 kids of her own! Dante is a big brother to his little sister Andie. Both Dante and Andie are the best-behaved little kids I have ever met. It would be my DREAM to have kids like them, Mimi! You'll have to tell me your secret one of these days!
Lisa and I have known each other since Second Grade at Alamo Elementary School. She is sweet, caring and has a heart-of-gold. We lost touch for about 15 years or so and then one day, she drove past my parents' house where she used to come to all of my birthday parties, and she rang the doorbell to say "hi." My parets recognized her immediately. She's the same Lisa she was back in second grade. Same smile, equally as charming, but just much much taller. My mom called me up immediately and said: "hey, you'll never guess who just rang our doorbell! It's Lisa from your second grade class and she hasn't changed a bit." From there, we re-established our friendship and haven't lost touch since. Lisa has been a true friend to me and has become a part of my family! Even at the age of 7, she helped my parents re-arrange our messy closets (and my dad never forgot that! He was like: "wow, your friend Lisa is amazing). Now she's about ten times more amazing, and it has been my honor and privilege to have known her for all these years. Lisa, thanks for being a part of our wedding and for being such a great part of our family! You're sorta like a big sister to me.
You guys know all about us, so we won't bore you with any details.