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Believer, Baltimore City special ed teacher, and 2:40 marathon runner. Diehard fan of “The Wire.” Email: ryanfan17@gmail.com. Support me: ko-fi.com/ryanfan

A child pornography scandal gave him 15 and a half years in prison

From Late1 at Wikipedia Commons

When I was a kid, I remember Jared from Subway, who, in commercials, claimed he lost over 200 pounds just by eating Subway sandwiches and constantly presented before and after photos of his progress. He even showed his jeans of when he weighed more than 400 pounds as a comparison to his then much slimmer weight.

While my brother and I knew that you do much more than eat Subway sandwiches to lose 200 pounds, the effects still stuck with us — Subway became our go-to “healthy” fast-food restaurant. …


Lesson: shock value marketing can backfire, a lot

An old coin laundromat with three wire laundry carts
An old coin laundromat with three wire laundry carts
Photo by Bianca Jordan on Unsplash

I don’t remember how it came up in conversation, but a friend asked me how to say “racism” in Chinese. I couldn’t conjure the word. It’s not like I’m a guru in the Chinese language, but I am a native Chinese speaker and I spoke it with parents and family growing up. If I had to make a reference to a racist comment, I would say something like “they don’t like Chinese people.” …


One year out of school, it was a shock to get back in the grind and world of academia

Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

I joked with some of my group project partners this week that my Master’s Degree was low key sucking the soul out of me. And then I revised my statement. My Master’s in Education at Johns Hopkins University is not lowkey sucking the soul out of me. It is high key sucking the soul out of me. I dread every Sunday, when I procrastinate all of my Master’s assignments before my 11:59 p.m. deadlines.

This last five months, I took nine credits for my Master’s and am now halfway done with my program. As much as I talk about how…


This suffocating pressure is an invisible stressor that often goes untold

Photo: Jason Leung/Unsplash

The words in this headline are a translation from my conversation with my father. I am currently studying for the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) and will soon be applying for evening law school to do while I teach and get more involved in special education. My father says this especially when I update him on how I’m doing — I’m currently in the 80th percentile of the exam on practice tests. I tell him the studying is going well. I tell him I want to eventually do as well as my friend who scored in the 99th percentile on…


When we need to attend to our needs and take a break

Photo by engin akyurt on Unsplash

“I just didn’t have it today, coach.”

Whenever we had a bad running race on my cross country team, we would have an individual conference with our coach. Usually, this was where we had a litany of excuses — we were overwhelmed with our academics, we didn’t eat enough, there was a stomach bug, and as you can imagine in any interaction between athlete and authority figure, my coach probably heard every excuse in the book.

However, one of my friends told him he just didn’t have it. He didn’t make an excuse. He just said it was a bad…


Satire

Each inspirational quote will turn you into a god

Photo by Hello I'm Nik on Unsplash

Hi friend,

You may have seen me posting a bunch of inspirational quotes on Instagram lately that leave a strange and cryptic impression. They fire people up like an engine and make people feel good while not necessarily doing much.

They make people feel inspired without actually inspiring them to take action, which makes me not only a self-help Instagram influencer but the best self-help Instagram influencer.

All the other self-help influencers just promise to make you happy. I will make you a god.

I’ve gained 100,000 followers on Instagram by just rehashing inspirational quotes and putting cool backgrounds on…


The times I felt like this whole life thing was one big charade.

Photo by Sammy Williams on Unsplash

Sometimes, I curse at myself. I motivate myself rationalizing that all my work does not really matter, that all of this is one big joke. I feel like this life thing is just a game where nothing really matters and the only point is passing the time — and I press forward with the same cynicism to keep myself going.

As a teacher, a graduate student, a writer, and an editor, my mindset and my actions are two completely different stories. While I feel like I’m not doing a good job like I’m just sandbagging my way through life like…


I’m grateful for the support and help of friends

Photo of Harper’s Ferry from the Appalachian Trail — from Mark Fickett on Wikipedia Commons

Man, what did I get myself into? I asked myself.

I fell and scraped half my body several times, still having cuts on my hands, knees, hips, and thighs. Some of those times, I fell on rocks. I had to watch every step I took to see I wasn’t stepping into a slush of mud with my shoes with terrible footing. It was cold. It was raining. Every other step I was encountering either a rock, root or huge puddles.

This was half my day yesterday. Yesterday, I ran 23 miles through the Appalachian Trail, starting at the Maryland-Pennsylvania border…


A testament to the human capacity for cruelty

St. Catherine and the Breaking Wheel — Public Domain

The wheel is known as one of the, if not the most effective inventions in human history. Almost every domain of human society was fundamentally changed — including agriculture and transportation.

But the wheel was also used for more malicious intent: executions and torture. The name for wheels used for this malicious purpose is now the “breaking wheel.”

According to Geoffrey Abbott, author of What a Way to Go, the wheel started as a method of execution under the cruel Roman emperor of Commodus, memorialized by The Gladiator. Commodus secured people on a bench, then rolled a wheel with iron…


Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

Hey all,

I just want to plug our writing contest one last time before the deadline this Sunday! We are, again, soliciting submissions from all mental health professionals and clinicians to submit using this form (here are the rules again if you would like a reminder). The contest has cash prizes of the following:

1st place: $500
2nd place: $350
3rd place: $150

The final deadline for the contest is this Sunday, on May 9, 2021, at 11:59 p.m.

Here are ten of our top pieces from the week:

“Why Aren’t We Talking About Depersonalization and Derealization?”Renee Consorte

“It’s 2:00 in the afternoon, and I’m hurtling down the highway…

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