They got me. So far, the comments from our immigration / financial advisors about the situation with my brokerage account are along the lines of, “Wow, we’ve never seen this before. Looks like someone’s misinterpreting the Patriot Act.” (I’m hoping the advisors will be able to tell me soon if I can claim a legal address in the US so I can get this all straightened out and keep my accounts.)

Do I believe the bank is out to get me? No. I’ve been with these guys a long time and while they may be a big soulless corporation, they’ve given me good service over the years. (Though I will still complain: closing the account without telling me is totally unacceptable.) I believe they are just acting in fear, trying to cover their collective corporate figurative ass. I also believe that while they may be going well beyond letter of the law, they are acting in the fearful and xeonphobic spirit in which it was written. What matter that I’m an American citizen, living abroad on only a temporary basis? I left the US, I’m prone to influence by them scurrilous furrin types (The Dutch, you know, have such a dangerous record. Not.) And besides I voted against every conservative extremist I could find last election, so I’m obviously not a right-minded type.

So this is officially the first time I’ve been burned, personally, by climate of distrust fostered by the current adminstration. I suppose I’m lucky it took this long. They say you never forget your first time, but in this case I’d kind of like to.

Another thing I’d like to say today is that my high school didn’t suck. I know it’s supposed to: brainy girl who likes reading, doesn’t know when to shut up and is maybe a little short on social skills, so the stereotype says I should have been cruelly embarassed and beaten up regularly, right? Only I wasn’t. Grade school was boring until 5th and 6th grade when I had some excellent teachers; junior high was largely forgettable. I got teased by one girl for the overly large comb I carried in my back pocket (we all carried combs there, but mine was bright yellow and said “IF YOU CAN READ THIS, YOU’RE TOO CLOSE) and maybe by a couple others for not really needing a bra yet (junior high humor does get personal), but I never really got the feeling that it was meant to make me miserable. (Though I think Jamie really did want to make me get rid of that comb.) I won’t pretend I enjoyed high school as much as college, because when you’re a girl in engineering school you don’t really need social skills to have a reasonable social life. I certainly wasn’t popular in high school, but I wasn’t an outcast either. I had friends and youth group activities, and while I might not have been invited to all the parties, it felt more like “we’re inviting our closest friends, not everybody we know” rather than “I’m having a party and I’m not inviting YOU.” People talked to me, and no one made fun of them for it.

I think part of it was the sheer size of the school. The people I knew there were mostly the bright ones in Rapid or AP classes. They had nothing to gain by making fun of smart people. I had the highest SATs in the year (you rarely get to mention that after college, sadly) but grade-wise I ranked 23/700. So there were actually 22 kids who were better at school than I was (often by virtue of having actual study skills) and some of them were very popular. There weren’t separate cliques of jocks, drama geeks, stoners, band geeks or whatever; there were smart people in all of those groups. The school president senior year was on the football team, in mostly Rapid classes, in the school play, and not an asshole. I suppose it’s possible I was totally oblivious and they were all making fun of me behind my back, but I suspect really they had better things to do, like grow grass in sludge. (Seriously, that was one girl’s science project: comparing grass seeds grown in the sewage some cities purified and sold as fertilizer. She won all kinds of awards with it. No one laughed at her either; she was one of the popular ones. Last I heard, she’s a doctor; I don’t think she’s living in a trailer park and drinking Thunderbird, or multiply divorced, or any of those things that are supposed to happen to popular kids after high school.)

There’s only one person from my year that I kept in touch with, but I actually had some contact with a couple of my classmates in the past year. One somehow found me through this blog (which is possible but I hope not too easy), and another popped up on the newsgroup for the camp where we’d both been counselors. I was actually glad to hear from them. The school’s having an event in May to celebrate 50 years at it’s current location. I’d probably go, if I lived closer.

I don’t want to downgrade anyone else’s high school misery, and I think it’s a real problem that sports are glorified while brains are often considered grounds for humiliation. But I don’t think anyone is well served by the stereotypes that geeky kids are always the school outcasts, or that popular kids are always horrible people. Maybe maybe getting rid of the stereotypes would help people consider those situations unpleasant anomalies that need to be corrected, instead of “just the way things are”.