Vision, Driving School, and Being Trans on Campus

Earlier today I had my first day of work as a barista down at the Utah Pride Center's Cafe Marmalade. Slinging coffee is a definite change of pace for a tech geek like myself, but I've caught on quick enough. Right after my shift ended I peddled across town to Costco for an eye appointment.

I got there right in the knick of time, eyes all blood-shot from expresso shot testing (part of the training process and another story entirely) and red-faced sweaty.

The receptionist handed me some paperwork to fill out. Once I had that completed, she requested my membership card which has my full first name on it - Melanie. This prompted her to ask how I pronounce my first name. In that moment and on the spot amongst strangers galore, I replied, "Mel-on-eye." I told her that I prefer Mel. And just like that, she asked no further questions.

After waiting for a few minutes the doctor called me in, tested my eyes, said something about how phobia of contacts-vs-glasses is more common in "us men" because we "don't apply makeup so close to our eyes frequently", and also discovered that I am not blind.

According to him, my eyes aren't perfect - but they aren't bad enough to not pass the basic DMV vision test. So he wrote me up a note for the DMV, declared me near-sided enough for glasses, and sent me off with my prescription - which I took to the employees out front after picking out a suitably handsome frame.

I told one of the employees my very-limited price bracket and she helped me keep everything under my mark, using masculine pronouns galore. And then came time to hand her my Costco membership card. Noticing "Melanie", she asked, "Is she with you?", to which I replied, "Oh, no. That's me. It's Mel-on-eye. I prefer Mel.", embarrassed, she apologized, and then we got my glasses ordered. So awkward.

Driving School

I vaguely remember the old 60s-70s driving videos they used to show in my high school Driver's Ed. I assumed they'd have upgraded by now but - no, they're playing the same videos 10 years later. And similar to the effect they had in high school, these videos continue to effectively put almost everyone to sleep. Or at least compelled to secretly text, look up at the ceiling day dreaming, doodling...

Which then, even with mostly adult students (and some youngins fast-tracking into their new cars ASAP), the instructor would blurt out from behind his desk, "I hear it but I don't see it! No texting during class!"

Even better, the class room is always really hot and stuffy. I really don't think there's any air conditioning. At all.

It's so good. For example, after showing us one video from the early 90s, the teacher asked the class, "So what was the big life-altering event that happened for Suzie before she got into that accident?"


5 seconds roll by.

"Come on, what life-altering event happened?"

3 seconds.

A cough.

And finally I break the uncomfortable, awkward silence, "She was just accepted into the college of her choice."

"Correct! Now, why do you all think she got into that accident?"


Unbearable, lingering silence.

I crack - again, "She didn't make good decisions."

"Exactly! What is THE MOST important thing when it comes to driving?"


And again, I respond, "Making good decisions."

"Yes! The decisions you make while driving can save your life, kids. Really now. Every person who gets into an accident, they think, 'this could never happen to me. That's someone else.', and that's just not true. It could happen to you, too - if you make bad decisions!"

Other Updates

My dad has a new nickname for me. It's "Whiskers". I like it. "Hey Whiskers, want to go get lunch?", "Whiskers! Don't forget about that meeting tomorrow!"

On a political note, I went to my neighborhood's Democratic Party caucus meeting again. And I'm a state/county delegate again (i.e. representative of my neighborhood; i.e. "precinct") and chair.

My friends Ralph and Jude also attended their caucus meeting and became delegates. Ralph and I unfortunately had very low turn-out from our lower-income precincts. However, Jude lives in an upper-middle-class neighborhood and had a very different experience. This was hiz first time going to a caucus meeting where ze was greeted by a huge turnout. Ze actually had to give two speeches and hir neighbors voted hir in as one of their precinct's five delegates. Wow.

Earlier last week I met with an advisor at Westminster College about some of my concerns, most notably being a transgender student. She was really nice. To begin with, she told me about the LGBQT group on campus and even walked me to the area where they meet (and they were meeting just then!). She also agreed to help me make sure that my name shows up as "Mel" when registered for classes (so this is what my professors see). She also showed me where the school health office and counselors were located, and also about the idea to make a map of all of the unisex bathrooms on campus. I'm so excited.


  1. Hadn't read your blog in a whl. I'm glad I did.
    Glad to hear you're doing well.
    Se ya in the funny pages

  2. where can i go to have serve me coffee, mel-on-eye?


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