A Teachable Moment

Teachable Moment

A Certificate From ORS

By E. R. Smith


For ten weeks in the evenings I along with eight brave souls took part in the Office Readiness Series offered at the New York Public Library.  Remaining relevant for me is essential; and so I trekked to the Parkchester Library and worked on Microsoft Office.  While Word and PowerPoint were just so much creative fun for me.  Excel was not.  Spreadsheets, Vlookups, and pivot tables were akin to geometry in eleventh grade.  I did not score well on the preliminary assessment and I just barely passed the ending assessment.  But do you know it never occurred to me to quit?  My daughter and a classmate’s daughter watched this process unfold for their mothers.  The children’s portion of the library is on the same floor as the classes; so many times I would look up from my laptop to find two pairs of eyes just watching through the door window.  I would hear commentary from the girls afterward on whether or not they observed us paying close enough attention. This was the first time my child commented on my intellect; as she watched me grow she assessed, “Mom, you know you’re very smart.”

This past Thursday my classmates and I celebrated our graduation from this coursework.  I was elated.  Although I hold an MSEd. in Education, this little certificate is dearer to me.  It represents proof that I can learn anything I put my mind to. I am teachable.  I can reinvent myself.   It reaffirms what I tell my child everyday; never give up on yourself.  There are easy A’s and impressive C’s.  Excel was definitely a hard C.  I continue to take as many workshops as I can on Excel so that while I might never master it; it won’t frighten me away.

Next up coding in order to build the blog you’re reading right now and Photoshop…html anyone?

TechConnect NYPL


New Horizons


New Horizons

Following the Lion

By E.R. Smith

There is a lion in the jungle… right at The New York Public Library’s Schwarzman location.  The lion is symbolic for me of the strength of knowledge.  Being a lifelong learner is the goal for the New Year and Beyond.


Treasures in My Apple

“Open a whole new world for your family; by being welcoming to the wealth of the unfamiliar.”

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By E.R. Smith

NYC is a treasure I love exploring.  Turn the corner of your neighborhood and you may meet a whole new culture.  My favorites are China Town and Brighton Beach.  Best for me is that the MTA takes me straight away to new views sounds and tastes.  Open a whole new world for your family; by being welcoming to the wealth of the unfamiliar.  These treasures are truly priceless.

Speaking on Natural Hair

“…apparently my “hair speak” doesn’t translate well.”

Speaking on Natural Hair

©2016 E. R. Smith All Rights Reserved

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When I think about a current personal protest; I think about my daughter’s hair.  I have kept her hair it’s natural texture purposefully.  I was concerned with maintaining her hair’s length and health.  I didn’t have much hair  on my head while growing up and hers has always been so bountiful.  For myself, I have gone back and forth with relaxing for some years before deciding within the past two years to remain natural.  It’s a hard decision, that has surrounded me with judgements from colleagues, friends, family, and prospective employers.  I read an article on madamenoire.com, and the portion that stuck with me is “people judge you by what they think your hair is saying.”  I know my hair says I accept and love myself.  But, apparently my “hair speak” doesn’t always translate well.  I’ve seen a number of friends of all hair types suffer from hair loss.  A number of women in my community suffer from alopecia.  My goal is to keep my hair, and to guide my child in the knowledge that hair length, health, and versatility is a goal.  I tell her to smile like Viola Davis at the Oscars with that spectacular green fitted dress and her own lovely locks. I want her to ignore controversy and set trends. I’ve told my child to be daring with her dos and wear wigs, weaves, pieces-but keep natural growth healthy.  I tell her to avoid hair extensions done in salons, that pull and break hair leaving one with shorter hair than when the extensions began and compromising hair edges.  We have all seen women of color with wispy edges and bald spots.  I feel like Ms. Davis’s character on the show How to Get Away With Murder; in the mirror scene where she snatches off her wig.  Done with faking it!  Upworthy.com posts that Viola was only supposed to remove her makeup.  She went a little further, and send a shock through me as I watched.  I just knew that the next social media minutes following would be filled with commentary on her actions….all because she had the audacity to show her hair.

So there you have it, my protest.  Where I risk being judged as ugly, unprofessional, lazy, and foolish.  As my child turns twelve at the end of December, she requested box braids for her birthday; always done without extensions, just her natural hair.  I know other mothers out there are smiling, because they know there will come a time for her to make her own styling decisions.  I know, I’m smiling too.  I’m also praying she makes the healthy decision.  Protest.

Continue reading “Speaking on Natural Hair”

A Paternal Soothing of the Soul

“I recently read an article on the devastating effects of absent fathers on girls.”

©2016 E. R. Smith All Rights Reserved

A Paternal Soothing of the Soul



When I watch my husband and child explore and play this soothes and relaxes me.  I recently read an article on the devastating effects of absent fathers on girls;  I am one of these dadless girls.  David Blankenhorn; calls this trend in absent fatherhood a “current social epidemic”.  He lists nine terrible impacts of fatherlessness.  The effects range from higher suicide rates to increased social, mental, and behavioral issues.  My child’s birthright is validated with every hug, conversation, and  outing she shares with her dad.  This is not just precious; its priceless.  A paternal soothing of the soul.

Little Italy in the Bronx

There are many magical places in the Bronx and Little Italy is one of those places.

Little Italy in the Bronx
©2016 E. R. Smith All Rights Reserved
Discovering cultures within your community…helps you grow in awareness of the possibilities surrounding you.  While visiting Little Italy on Belmont we learned where fresh pasta comes from and how it is made.  The artisans at Borgatti’s are amazing, you’ve got to visit them.  Keep traditions alive, so they may be cherished by future generations.

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Where Has Conversation Gone?

I miss conversation, it was an important part of the community.

© 2016 E. R. Smith All Rights Reserved
Millennials keep earphones on all day long. They rarely detach.

Where Has Conversation Gone?

There was a time, not long ago, when people spoke with one another.  Conversation was a wonderful way to know who your neighbors were, what’s the newest news on the block, it was comforting.  Yes, conversation was a bit nosy and intrusive, however it seems to have kept us safer…more connected.  Conversation began in childhood, we spoke to our friends on the playground.  We organized who would turn or jump for double-dutch.  We looked at one another as we spoke, to learn what the twitches and expressions our friend’s face meant. We put the verbiage together with facial changes to sense a deeper meaning.  We stared unblinkingly at our partner’s eyes to assure that our chants and hands were synchronized during “Miss Mary Mack”.  Adults encouraged conversation as they insisted we, “Look people in the eyes when you speak, and speak clearly, politely.”  During April 1, we carefully studied our pals faces and facial adjustments; so as not to be made a fool. Conversation was an important part of the community.
As we grew we shared secrets with one another.  We whispered in the dark under blankets or on a park bench.    We scooted quietly closer while adults held conversation.  We used some of these “too grown” conversations to develop our own style of speech amongst our friends.  We studied friends closely as they retold tales, deciding based on all of the clues in front of us, which parts were true or embellished. Our voices comforted when the need arose, conversation was soothing.  We sang together along with tapes, cd’s, “boom boxes”.  We tried our best to copy the lyrical conversations in harmony.  We played games to determine who was the wittiest with words.  Which personality could use words with the fierceness of a lash?  “Whooo Tahhh!”  “Oh, you got dissed and dis-missed! We shouted with joy at the loser of the verbal sparring.
As we aged we talked of children to seek advice, or to be consoled by that friend who always knows just what to say.  We spoke of wives, husbands, lovers, and Yes we gossiped. Happy chatter that enjoys every colorful adjective, verb, and noun used to retell a juicy story.  We conversed at the barbershop, hair salon, on the bus, train, on the stoop, everywhere really.
Now I haven’t seen conversation in a long time.  In certain areas I don’t see it at all.  Where has conversation gone?  Everyone has an earpiece on…I wonder what young ones learn from listening to these often loud one-sided conversations.  Elderly, adult, and teen creatures sit quietly on the morning subway ride.  Head and shoulders fused, bad posture all around, as they text…LOL…BFF…TTYL.  Come to think of it personality has gone on hiatus as well!  Teens mimic the newest personality on You Tube…and they converse by trying to out mimic one another.  Where’s the game in that?  Polite is something we know is gone…Mr. Trump has proved this.  Teens will stubbornly elbow the meek to death on public transportation as they focus on apps, tweets, etc.
As people grow and grow apart.  Text messages are used to dismiss the unwanted from a circle.  Texts have no soothing tones, no emotions.  Come to think of it some emotions are packing it in.  Empathy, sympathy, sincerity are leaving communities quickly.  Even imperfect phone conversations are halted by simply ignoring the phone.  Lives are shared via Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram.  Faces are hidden behind computer screens to cover true emotions, to lie, to evade.  We see only the Photoshopped, crisp advertisement our “friends” share.
When anyone utters,”we have to talk” one wonders  what tragedy, emergency, or argument is coming.  We aren’t used to talking as the afternoon travel home reveals.  The young sit comfortably in the suggested handicapped/elderly seats; as the old and infirm stand and hold on for dear life.  Teens shout, curse, and basically disrespect one another.  The new word for “dissed” is now “violated”.  Kids misuse this word all of the time.  “Ohhhh you got violated!”  There is little personality, or creativity.  Remember as teens when we created new words for the dictionary.  Phat is a word to be proud of.  Unless I observe an infant or toddler, I hear very little soothing tones.  Teens listen with headphones and sing to Pandora, Rhapsody, if they can’t afford iTunes.  There is no harmony sought in song or social situation.  Adults learn from the young, and the new rude means no one is kind.  Everyone learns to survive by acquiring the new demeanor of a surly teen on mass transit.
I miss conversation and the emotions it used to produce within my spirit.  Listening to the elders made me funny if I do say so myself.  I do say so because I really like saying stuff.  Conversation should not be the sole property of college campuses and inquisitive classrooms. We are losing so much as it stays away.  I cherish those in my world who mourn its moving on…to make room for?  I don’t know?  Quiet passive aggressive folks, who reach out only when WiFi is on?  Mean self absorbed creatures who willing edge out the slow for seats on transportation so they can quietly take part in solitary play.  We cheered the teen heroes of recent movies; The Hunger Games, Divergent, and The Giver, who risk their lives to save humanity.   Which city teen, in any large city in the world, is our hero?  When will they find and rescue conversation?  Well let me know if you know who.