Over Coffee

9750 Babbitt Avenue.
Excerpts from our conversation over coffee this morning:

Dad: I am so glad you are here. I will miss you. I will miss you so much. I don’t want to leave you. We were going to have so much fun. Rueben gets a grandchild, Mohilef. All I wanted was to take a grandchild to a baseball game. I don’t care where. Anywhere. All I wanted. I don't want to be the one who passed away surrounded by his loved ones. I have always had goals, and in this case, they've all been missed. 

Me: I will miss you so much. You will be with me always. Always. I will take you with me wherever I go. You are in a cloud of love. A warm blanket of love. We are lifting you up so you are strong.


Big Nanny's Kugel Recipe

Today, Nana came over to the house to teach Alana and I to make my great-grandmother's kugel. It's a simple but delicious recipe. She still has the instructions written in Big Nanny's handwriting. It is what Dad will have for dinner tonight, his first night back at home after more than two weeks at the hospital.

Big Nanny's Kugel
1 pint of sour cream
1 pint of cottage cheese
1 stick of butter, melted
6 eggs, whisked
16 oz to 20 oz wide egg noodles

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix all the ingredients together. Butter the lasagna dish. Pour the ingredients into the dish and bake until the top is golden brown. Once baked, cool, and remove from dish and cut into squares. It can be frozen. Nana prefers to reheat it in the toaster oven.

We listened to the soundtrack of Singin in the Rain while we cooked.


The Way You Look Tonight

I'm at the hospital for the early shift, starting at 6:45am. I brought Dad coffee. He's in a fabulous mood. 

We play Frank Sinatra. Dad gets his breathing treatment. A new song comes on. "Great song!" I say. I look up from my chair. Dad is crying. It's our song, the song we danced to at my wedding. "I love you so much," Dad says. I hold his hand and kiss his cheek.

The Way You Look Tonight, by Frank Sinatra

Some day, when I'm awfully low
When the world is cold
I will feel a glow just thinking of you
And the way you look tonight

Yes, you're lovely with your smile so warm
And your cheeks so soft
There is nothing for me but to love you
And the way you look tonight

With each word your tenderness grows
Tearing my fear apart
And that laugh that wrinkles your nose
It touches my foolish heart

Lovely, never ever change
Keep that breathless charm
Won't you please arrange it?
'Cause I love you just the way you look tonight
Just the way you look tonight


Pancreatic Cancer

What is the pancreas?

The pancreas is an organ located in the abdomen. It plays an essential role in converting the food we eat into fuel for the body's cells. The pancreas has two main functions: an exocrine function that helps in digestion and an endocrine function that regulates blood sugar.... 

Cancer of the Pancreas:

Cancer of the pancreas is one of the most challenging diseases physicians face today because it responds poorly to treatment and quickly spreads to surrounding organs.... Pancreatic cancer, and its treatment, may also create certain physical symptoms such as pain, digestive difficulties, and fatigue.

Dad's Diagnosis:

Stage IV: The cancer has spread outside of the pancreas to other parts of the body.
Metastatic: This type of cancer cannot be surgically removed because the cancer has spread to other parts of the body. Unfortunately, nearly half of all pancreatic cancer cases are detected at this stage.


  1. FLORFIRINOX: In 2010, the American Society of Clinical Oncology hailed this combination of drugs to be the most significant advance for pancreatic cancer. It can be difficult to tolerate. Outcome: Completely ineffective. Dad's tumors grew 30% in six weeks (three rounds).
  2. Abraxane® with Gemcitabine: Phase III trials for this combination have shown superior results than gemcitabine alone. Outcome: TBD.


A strong support system, including family, friends, clergy, and an excellent medical team, help a patient deal with pancreatic cancer. A positive outlook can help a patient take better care of himself, and can also inspire a patient to appreciate those things that are meaningful in the present as opposed to focusing on what may be lost in the future.


Dad and Daughter

Tarzana Hospital, Room 304, 2:38pm

Daughter: Dad, do you want a hug?

Dad: I always want a hug.

[Dad's eldest daughter walks to hospital bed, leans in for a hug.]

Daughter: Doesn't that feel better?

Dad: Yes. You know I love you, right? Everything happens the way it should. It might not be the way we want it to happen, but everything happens the way it should.

Daughter: You don't have to say that.

Dad: Yes I do, because I'm your Dad. That's my job.

Daughter: But sometimes you lose your job, or you leave it. 

[Both laugh. After living in New York for 13 years, Dad's eldest daughter just left decade-long job as a magazine editor and is spending a few weeks at home.]

Daughter: Well, maybe you can let your job go for a minute. Don't you feel relieved not to have the responsibility? Enjoy it!

[Both laugh. Eldest daughter gives Dad a kiss on the cheek. Hug ends.]

Eldest Daughter = me.
Dad = Dad. 


Entry 1

My first order of business when I arrived in L.A. five days ago was to clean out my room. Since then, I've reviewed hundreds of photographs, notes, books, suitcases, more. This is what I learned about myself: 

I keep everything.

I found my old journals, dating back to at least 6th grade—if not earlier. I still keep a journal in a leather-bound book I bought in Big Sur in 2001. But today I'm starting here, in my new digital space. I plan to share the story of my Dad, who is battling pancreatic cancer; my job search, now that my decade-long career at Travel + Leisure has ended; and my quest for answers in a world that has thrown me for a loop. Thanks for reading.