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The Final Countdown: 5 Things To Do Before Winter Break

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Photo by: Yazan Aryan’18. Hamzeh Shahin ’18 taking off on the golf cart.

Four more days. We have four more days until we all go our separate ways for three weeks, blowing off all the steam leftover from classes and classmates, from cocos and quizzes, from 3 months of King’s Academy.

For seniors, winter-break marks the end of the bulk of college work, and the beginning of senioritus. For juniors and sophomores, they can take a much deserved break from all their classes, after the vigorous work they have been through. For freshman, they can take time for reflection after the first term of high school. For teachers, return home to your families and friends, and forget all the stacks of grading left at home.

Although, we are coming back in three-weeks, so consequences for how we handle this week are in play. We all feel a little burnt out, and want to just give up, but it isn’t over just yet. So, here is a few things to remember before we take off for three-weeks.

Number One: Finish all left-over homework before you leave.

Whatever reason you have for the work not being done, you won’t remember anything by the time you come back, and that work will remain undone until its too late. Whether it is one, two, three, or more assignments, get it done.

Number Two: Clean out all your food!

Freshman year, I forgot to take the milk out, and that was not a nice thing to come back to. Unless you want to clean out some yeast during quiet hours on the first Saturday back, do it now.

Number Three: Talk to your teachers about grades.

The report cards will be submitted on the first week back, and no teacher likes being harassed by their students about grades right before they are due. Talk to them now, before everyone else starts to attack.

Number Four: Turn off your fridge one night before.

All the ice in the freezer is gonna melt, have yourself be there before it happens, so that you can make sure your room stays in tact. Nobody wants to come back to a wet carpet and ruined wires.

Number Five: Make a list of everything you need to bring back.

You’ll probably forget how much stuff you took back home, and unless you want to spend the first week sleeping without sheets and begging friends for an extra towel, leave yourself a note of what you need to bring back. We are gonna continue the year at full-speed once we get back, make sure you can focus on that rather than your discomfort.

As long as you can get these things done before you leave for break, you can rest without stressing about coming back, and guarantee that return process will be a lot easier.

Making Cement Breaks Backs: A Trip to Jordan’s Ajloun

A few months ago, I was fortunate enough to spend my weekend taking part in the Habitat For Humanity trip to Ajloun. It’s a volunteer program that collects volunteering students to build houses for the less-fortunate members of Jordan’s community.

I’ll start off bluntly, and confess that I initially signed up for the Habitat trip to add to my college resume. Yet, I began to get this giddiness as the trip got closer.

The Friday morning drive to Ajloun was a relaxing escape from the protective, and yet limiting walls of King’s Academy to the open and calming forests of Ajloun.

Once we arrived at the house we’ll be staying the night in, I felt nostalgic, looking at the plain white walls that reminded me of my aunties’ houses. Despite how simple and “cheap” it looked, I only felt an odd warmth, the same warmth that surrounded my aunties’ homes, whenever I visited.

Inside the house, the walls were a rough cement gray, with the strokes of the trowel used to spread the cement were so clear you could copy the same movements just by following the strokes on the walls. These strokes were oddly foreshadowing, we came to build a house and here’s a preview as to what we’ll be doing.

The students rushed up the stairs to check out the rooms, there were three rooms, 1 for the boys and 2 for the girls. The boys’ room was large singular space with a bunch of mattresses on the floor. I didn’t really care where I slept, I just dumped my bag on the ground and went downstairs for our snack time.

A bag of hummus and falafel sandwiches, a perfect 11:00am snack.

We started heading to the building site at 12:30pm, and we arrived at a house on the hillside with the perfect view of the valleys of the hilly Ajloun. We were introduced to the family who we were going to build this house for. Mr. Ramadan, the man in charge of the whole operation.

He first asked us to line up in a factory line to start getting the bricks from the truck they came in, to the inside of the building site.

It reminded of a song the dwarfs from Snow White sang. I kept chanting “heigh ho heigh ho” in my head as we passed a brick from one person to another.

Once we had enough bricks for the walls, we needed the “glue” that every building needs.

It was time to make some cement.

Mr. Ramadan had me and another student join him and watch the backbreaking process of shoveling the cement powder with the sand and making sure everything gets soaked in water.

Mr. Ramadan did so smoothly that I thought it was going to be a cake-walk.

However, I thought wrong and as I let out a hefty grunt I started mixing the cement, as I shoveled the sand and cement together, all I thought was how strong Mr. Ramadan’s back must be.

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Hunter Engle ’20, and Mr. James Magagna mixing cement with the author (middle) in Ajloun
Mohammed Malkawi/Habitat for Humanity

After 4 hours of hard work, we went back to the house to clean up.  Afterwards, we had the privilege of eating at the family’s house for dinner. They prepared Maglobah for us, with salad and everything.

What caught my eye was the chicken to lamb ratio. They had 3 dishes of chicken Maglobah and 1 dish of lamb Maglobah.

I soon remembered that chicken was the cheapest meat you could buy and the lamb was a luxury that a lot of us forget sometimes. I understood that despite the fact that this family didn’t have much, they gave us more welcoming faces and food they normally have.

That warm feeling enveloped me and couldn’t help but truly reflect on where I am now. I’m in the best boarding school in Jordan. I’m privileged to have access to a higher education.

On the bus ride back to Kings, I only regretted not thanking the family enough like they thanked us for building a home that will help them in the long run.

All I can say is to be willing to do a thankless job, you’ll understand that you don’t need everyone’s approval and learn how to thank yourself.

Beyond our Borders, Madaba’s Horse-Racing Underworld

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Bill Shoemaker was an American jockey, who was most famous for holding the record for most races one by an individual for 29 years. His horse alone, made 123 million dollars over his career. His earnings are disclosed. He lived a luxurious life because of his success in the sport. For this reason we will forever remain a legend in the Equestrian world. Until today, bill remains one of the most famous athletes in the Equestrian world, all starting from his career as a jockey.

To be a jockey requires a brave and understanding heart; you most be brave enough to endure the risks of the race, and be understanding enough to change your style based off of your horse. The job is not one that is easy, nor reliable, which is why, in Europe, those who take it up become so famous. Jordan is a different story; the jockey is equal to the groomer, just another chess piece in a dangerous game some powerful men have been playing for too long now.

“It is dangerous, it really is! I mean, you see around you we have rules and schedules. But they don’t go by that, they do whatever they want. It is not a nice business at all.” – Jordanian Equestrian Sports Specialist/Anonymous

Jordan has a rich Equestrian Culture. Every weekend you’ll find an event taking place at some location in the greater amman area. Some may be a little less luxurious than usual, but all of them are controlled by the International Federation for Equestrian Sports (FEI). Competitions always include the same set of judges, and the clubs that host them are inspected a few days before for proper sizes, grounding, and safety of the fence linings. Horses are checked for shots and steroids the night before. The entire competition is heavily regulated, to ensure that the tournaments are as safe as possible. Beauty competitions are also monitored carefully by the FEI, and winning horses are sent around the world to compete internationally. People invest tens of thousands of dollars into horses for both business and leisure, and some prominent riders even own private stables. Prize money can reach up to 1000 JD in some national competitions, and a lot of people count on the business of Equestrian Sports as a primary form of income; from the groomers in the stables to the riders and owners themselves. If it is controlled by the FEI, and is under their domain of power, then you can expect it to be professional and held to luxurious standards. Anything outside of said domain will be the complete opposite; and horse-racing falls in that category.

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Taken By: Yazan Aryan’18 for The Rexonian. Recent Race near King’s campus, seconds after starting. The leading horse and jockey won.

Horse-racing is known as a bit of a conundrum for the FEI, mostly because it is barely considered a sport. Most members of the Equestrian community see it as a gambling industry that doesn’t involve as much skill as other sports, causing it to lack an appearance in the Olympics, as well as a supranational system to keep it in check across the globe. The sport that is usually known as prestigious and perhaps even prodigal, for its luxurious events in Europe, has appeared to become one of the most crooked stage in the rest of the world, in terms of animal and rider welfare.

The closest thing horse racing has to the FEI is the International Federation of Horse Racing Authorities (IFHA), recognized as the most legitimate institution. Similar to the FEI, the federation has regulated competitions fairly well whatever they can control, monitoring the horse food, vaccines, blood levels, training facilities, and mental stability. Organizations such as the Professional Jockey Association and British Horse-racing Authority also take control of some in game needs, such as the number of whips a jockey can give, the saddles and reins types, and the overall danger of the jockey’s technique. All groups will check the venue before hosting any competition to make sure the length and width is right, boarder-linings are safe, and the race itself goes smoothly. The IFHA isn’t perfect, but it does its job fairly well where it can.

Horse-racing becomes and issue when the IFHA can’t control it, and the FEI refuses to. IHFA is limited mostly to European and American races, putting fruitless efforts into expanding their range of control. An example of such lacking efforts is Jordan; where horse-racing has falling so far out of the spectrum of the IFHA and FEI’s control, and into the hands of locals of highly unregulated sectors. Stiff flooring, tight turns, inconsistent levelling, and lack of borders are all things that mark the track. This, without considering the massive amount of steroid usage and money laundering in the business. This fancy form of gambling transitions into levels near dog-fighting and fox-hunting, in terms of animal abuse.

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Taken By: Yazan Aryan’18 for The Rexonian. A mouldering horse, who was seemingly shot after breaking its legs.

On September 12th, I had a meeting via phone-call with an anonymous insider within the business of Equestrian Sports in the middle east. Said person shall be referred to as Sam from this moment forth. Sam has been involved in many different aspects of the industry, including some that have gotten him close to the illegal horse races in Madaba through both the positions of trying to systematically control it and selling to some members. Per Sam, Abdul-Naim Abu-Windi is the mastermind behind the project. Although, he can barely be called such. His job does not carry a high magnitude of responsibility, since most people involved in it are upper-class business men, or politicians, who use it as a hobby on the side of their actual source of income. Although, the people who work for them depend on the job for their lives, including jockeys, who are seen to be just as professional as the groomers and guards. Competitions are all very spontaneous, organized by a few of the owners a few days before, whenever they feel like being entertained. Then on the next Friday they will all meet in one of the tracks, where you might often find a few jockeys fly off the horse and get severely injured, as well as visibly unhealthy horses being forced to race. Fight may even start, and will often end with a few injuries. In fact, fights are so bad that the races are called off during Ramadan, as they fear the anger that comes from fasting will cause someone to take a fight a step to far.

The largest issue with the horse racing industry is a lack of coverage by the FEI, which refuses to recognize it as a sport. Had they taken control over it, like they do with Horse jumping, the races would be much safer. The reason Horse jumping is so much more prestigious is because the Etihad (FEI in Jordan) have a set of policies that the clubs should fill out to host a tournament, and if they don’t the Etihad don’t come judge, and therefore nobody comes because the prize money ends up being smaller, and the tournemant has the reputation of being unsafe. The Etihad also checks each horse for shots in the last 6 months, steroids, and current state of health. If any of these tests are failed, the horse isn’t allowed to race, even after having paid. The control goes as far to the track itself, where if the horse refuses to jump twice, you are pulled out. Even if you use your whip excessively (more than twice), you can be suspended for 6 months from riding, even for pleasure, and are fined nearly 150 JDs. Etihad has taken control of the entire business, and everyone trusts them; so why don’t they try and control the mess that is Horse-racing.

In 2009 the Etihad funded an underground study on the benefits of systematically controlling horseracing. The research went as far as to send some representatives to Istanbul, one of which I have spoken to. The research concluded that the Jordanian GDP could drastically rise if the business is controlled. This option is still unrealistic, as it would require institutionalized gambling in a predominantly muslim country. Although, benefits are not just financial, as the business will easily break even, but for the same reason many people support legalizing prostitution or certain drugs. By controlling the industry through a larger body, like the IFHA, we can begin taxing clubs and racers so that the country may benefit, and will be saving the lives of many horses and humans. Sources have told me that the industry is hazardous to all members taking part, including the animal, and this can be confirmed to be accurate. This idea is not even foreign to Jordanians, as sources have informed me that Horse-racing used to be near the standards of horse-jumping today in Jordan during the 70’s and 80’s, but it was the 90’s and 00’s that saw the major drop off into its current state. Even today Saudi Arabia has a fairly strong industry for races, although remaining fairly shady and unknown.

I chose to visit one of these races. The closest event to us was actually right behind kings. in fact, you can see our clock-tower when looking at the south-eastern wing of the track. We were told that there is a club nearby named “Nadi Jbeil”, but instead were met with a larger dirt field. I was told is used for planting grains in the winter, but during spring becomes the track. It was a large plain that was marked by an oval shaped track. The track is only separated from the rest of the land around by the slight differences in thickness of the dirt. The grounding is uneven, mixed with rocks,  without boarders, and has sharp turns and bad footing for the horses. People from all over the area gather around, sitting on the hood of their car, parking exactly outside the track, or sometimes in the area in the center. They bring their own food, drinks, and shisha from their homes. You may think this is them being cheap and refusing to pay prices to the club, but it is because the club is not a club, and instead just the track and nothing else around it (not even fencing to mark their land). There are no places to sit, no rooms for horses, no actual built areas, as everything is portable. The horse are brought on pickups, rather than trailers, and are visibly skinny and heavily built. Both the jockeys and there horses are dressed in bright colors and interesting outfits. The tac for horses are very lacking, with some jockeys choosing not to use saddles. One horse’s martin gal, a piece attached to the pit of a horse in order to get more contact and control, was attached to the throat of the horse instead of the chest, possibly harming the horses wind-pipe. There were two judge groups; one that stood by the starting line and initiated the opening of the doors, and one that stood by the finishing line to determine who came first in the case of a close race. Overall, it was extremely low budget and dangerous for everyone involved. Horses were hurting their joints on turns and if anything goes wrong, the grounding can kill a horse, jockey, or audience member.

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Taken By: Yazan Aryan’18 for The Rexonian. The left and center side show the track, while the right shows the area open to audiences.

Nonetheless, there is a reason the races are prominent in the area. Its easy to find the appeal of the event. In an area with very low sources of entertainment, it provides somewhere to take your family on the weekends, and escape from the everyday life. I joined a family for a cup of tea, and conversed about the techniques of different riders. Within a few minutes I found myself, coming from a background of show-jumping events, absorbed by the entire experience. As an audience member I am not aware of all the dangers, as I most probably don’t know much about horses. Frankly, to many, even if I did know, why should I care? As long as the show is fun to watch I am happy to be here. There is little incentive for me to boycott the competition for its many dangers.

The fact of the matter is, this industry is big for something with such little organization. Its success seems to be coming from the love of its members for it. The community all gathers to watch races, and they don’t even need to pay a cent. Most end up getting really immersed into the games, so they buy the papers and schedules available so that they understand everything better. The industry also provides jobs to many; the groomers, jockeys, and judges all rely on the business as a main source of income. The industry is too big to just wipe out with higher surveillance, and is impossible in the drug-filled section of the country we are in. Closing down the industry is impractical, but controlling it is possible. The Etihad has looked at it in the past, and with the industry growing stronger by the day, we might see a much more regulated horse-racing industry in Jordan.

The Deadly Cough Syrup

 

Drug reference has been present in music for years. Rappers in specific are known to make drug use and abuse mainstream and acceptable. Because of rappers, drugs have become a regular daily routine in the daily lives of artists and the people inspired by the music. The deadly cough syrup mixed with sprite is known for its street name“Sizzurp” Or “Lean” or “Drank” etc. Is a cough syrup that contains codeine and promethazine. The drug is sold under the pharmaceutical company Activist.

The first time “lean” was mentioned in a rap music was back in 1998 where Dj screw dropped a single with the title of “Sippin Codeine” with the use of lyrics that say “I Sipp codeine it makes a southside playa lean, stackin green, steady stackin green, steady sippin codeine.”. Though “Sizzurp” was not made popular until about 2012 where the rapper Lil Wayne promoted his single “Me and my Drank” that contained l “I buy a bottled pop, drop some syrup in it”. It is clear how rappers give this drug an acceptable reputation, that influences the listener.

The abuse of “lean” has went out of hands, with the rate of abuse sky rocketing. That lead to the company “Activist” to cease production. The event is expressed in many rap songs, as Ab soul said in his song “Ride slow” “I heard they stopped making actives (you know when I heard that?), While I was sipping Activist. After ceasing production, a black market for the cough syrup has risen and has gathered a mass audience. That seems to be successful selling a bottle of 125ml for 400$.

The abuse of the drug came with a cost, when there was reported death incidents caused from the drug directly, and as well many people suffered seizures that was caused from over dosing on the drug. Even artists such as Lil Wayne suffered many seizures from the drug and were hospitalized for days. The alarming number of mortality caused by “Lean” started to concern many artists. That caused many artists to quit the drug. As “Schoolboy Q” describes it “I don’t know if it was a near death experience but it felt like I was about to die”. Since then artists such as “Lil Wayne”, “Danny brown”, “Future” quit using the drug.

As we live in a world that is defined by hype, it is seen to what extent people can go for in order to imitate their favorite A-list celebrity. What seemed to be bragging about the use of a cough syrup, went down south as people started getting hospitalized for the abuse of the drug. Since then, the reference of the drug was never the same and it will remain a trend that was killed.

How to keep yourself warm at King’s?

“You cannot predict the weather in Jordan,” says Ms. Julianne. Anyone who lives in Jordan experiences a cold chilly day underneath the rain in one day and a sunny hot weather on the next day. In Madaba, specifically at King’s, the weather tends to be a little bit colder than other neighborhoods around it, because it is in the middle of nothing. So, the wind attacks the campus from every direction; there are not any houses or buildings around the campus to protect the King’s Academy helpless students from cold nights.

Not only that, but also the heaters in the dorms have limited time. In the dorms, the heater turns on at 5:30 am in the morning and turns off at 8 am. During this time, most of the students and faculty are sleeping underneath their warm blankets, so really there is no point of the heater at that time. The heaters in the dorms turn on again at the end of the day – at about 7:00 pm, which is the time when many students are having dinner in the Dining Hall or are out with their friends. When students come back to the dorms at 7:45 pm to check in, they tend not to sit next to the heater, because warmth coming from it would make them sleepy after a long exhausting day at King’s. So, even though heaters might make the room a little bit warmer at night, they are still reducing their energy to study.

So, what should a King’s Academy student do to keep himself or herself warm on this cold campus?

First, students at King’s Academy should bring all their winter clothes with them when winter begins. If applicable, they should also bring their siblings’ hoodies. As they pack the winter clothes, students should make sure that there is at three thick pairs of socks, only for the dorm. They should also pack two pants; one very tight to the body, so air does not enter, and the other big loose pants, so it feels homey and cozy.

Secondly, students should make sure that they close their doors quickly after they enter the room or leave it, because the heaters at King’s take a very long time to warm the room, and the heat leaks out very quickly. One minute is enough for the room to feel cold, maybe colder than before. The room, however, might get stuffy because there is not any source of air. To solve this problem, students should keep their windows open during the day when they are in the Academy Building. At that time, even though the room would become cold, it is not going to matter because the heaters is not switched on any way.

Thirdly, during classes, students should keep rubbing their hands to feel warm, because at King’s, the heaters are in the furthest corner the them. Sorry! There is not any other practical way to stay warm. Nevertheless, you might play some tricks on the school. Students can bring a very warm “dark blue” coats with them, so when they wear them in the Academy Building, teachers would not recognize that it is not the school’s uniform. In addition, they can also bring coffee to the class, and touch the cub during the class from time to time to transfer some heat from it to their hands. At the end of the day, we, students, want to survive the battle against coldness on campus!

 

 

 

 

No More an Email, But a WhatsApp!

نتيجة بحث الصور عن ‪a lot of emails‬‏

If you ask a student, a faculty or a staff in King’s Academy to list the things that overwhelm them on campus, “emails” would definitely be part of the list. Members of the King’s Academy community receive tons of emails every day, maybe every hour. They read some of these emails, ignore some of them, and delete others immediately. When a person asks about a specific email, King’s Academy students sometimes acknowledge it, but most of the time, they just have no idea about what the person is talking about.

Not only that, but also because the students receive an overwhelming amount of emails, they usually get lost, and as a result, they miss important emails, such as emails that have assigned homework, times for meetings, or even information from the “dream” college.

Others, on the contrary, take advantage of these emails received every day; they would use them to make excuses when missing a homework assignment, saying “I did not see your email!” The sender would say nothing to them, knowing the big amount of emails everyone receives at King’s.

But…

What if emails become similar to the WhatsApp, where the sender can see – by checking two small tick marks on the email – whether the person who received the email saw the message or not. Would that change the attitude of the people using an email on campus?

When asked this question, many people stood silently, contemplating the question. “If someone can know whether I read his or her email, the process of communicating would be taken too personal,” answered Lara Arab ’18. “This is because if I receive a specific email from someone, and I do not reply because I am on a hurry or I am busy, the person who has sent the email would not know that; he or she would simply think that I ignored them.”

Some students think that even though the sender can see whether they saw the email or not, they can still get away with it as they usually do in WhatsApp. “I would not click on every email I receive.” says Meran Mansrah ’18. “I would just ignore the emails I receive from specific people and only click on the emails that come from my teachers.” she elaborates.

In respond to that, Ms. Ola, who is the director of operations at King’s, “That would be a very great responsibility, especially if your job is essentially based on the emails you receive. She, then, elaborates on her idea using the OSL as an example. She believes that if the OSL does not open every single email that students, faculty and staff send, then it is going to be a disaster; some students will not ensure that there is transportation for their TOEFL exams, and parents would not reach the school, etc.

Nevertheless, the idea of making the email tells us whether the emails we send are read or not might be advantageous for teachers. “I would know whether my students read my emails or not, so when they make excuses, I have an evidence!” says Ms. Rachel, who is a chemistry teacher at King’s. “If I can know who are the students that read my emails and who do not read my email, it would be very easy for me to do my tasks; I would simply try to reach the students who do not read the email only and inform them of the information I send, saving time and effort.” she continues.

Personally, I believe that if there is an option on emails that allows us to automatically see whether the sent emails are seen or not, I would be more organized and responsible; I would not leave my email until I reply to all the important emails. Not only that, but also I would not miss important I receive, specially that I am a senior, and I might receive emails from important institutions and colleges.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Looking for a Star

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The brightest stars give the most light.

I like stars. Something about them is just so interesting, so enchanting, and so irritating. A few of them are easy to notice, but you might need to put some effort to catch some of the others. The world is full of these bright structures, but they’re so far away no one can catch them, or be friends with them. See, they’re not only figures in the sky, they’re a concept. But what if. What if I outsmart them. They’re not better than me. No one has anything that I don’t have. If they are stars, I can be a star too. And not only any star, but the brightest of them all.

If you know my relationship with some of these stars, you’ll think I’m crazy, and I won’t deny it. It takes courage and a little bit of insanity to do what I am doing. What you might not yet understand, is that I have a whole planned strategy. I calculate and measure every step, every breath, every look that a star might exchange. It is simply foolish to ignore those tiny details, they’re most important. Look, if you want to be star, you have to take down these stars, and allow your actions to make louder noise.

So, pull out your calculator, because every step in my crazy process is carefully thought about and measured.

I never approach a collection of stars all at once. I befriend them, one by one. I weaken their brightness, by making them feel like I emit greater light energy. If the light energy they emit equals 1000 joules, I make them feel like it is only half of what it could be, by pretending like I emit 2000, even if I don’t. It’s all in the head. Once I make them feel like I could not have cared less about their blinding bright light, and their irresistible charismatic noise, the fun begins.

When one stars sees me accompanying another star, they freeze, and think about the validity of my stardom. Later the same day, I make the second star feel like I am the galaxy, and they believe it. I get a kiss on the cheek from the second star, and that is how the third and fourth and fifth begin noticing my light. My light is not pretend.

These stars wonder, who is it that dares to look me in the eye, and not be intimidated. They wonder, they question, and to their surprise they find themselves pulling themselves in. They pull themselves from their high places in the sky, to where they think is low, only to surprise them once more, by showing them the true height that I stand at. Or so I pretend.

One by one, I pull them in. I know their secrets, their fears and regrets, and I try to be there for them. I call it a star-studded party. I love those, the ones all the stars are at, so I can target more than one at the same time. Don’t think of them as victims, they’re lucky they’re in my presence. Or is all pretend?

It takes time to take them down, so that’s not my goal. I want to belittle them, but still be on their team.

I often forget that stardom is not about money. There are many stars that are not rich, but I often lose myself in their clean happy appearance. Little did I know that they are far from happy. A portion of these stars do not own that much money, and they might or might not be happier than those stars who do.

In the time I am looking for a star, I remember that in my life, I am the biggest one of them all.