Conversation Stopper

(Skirt, Primark; sweater, thrifted; shoes, Kurt Geiger c/o Idealo.co.uk)

Yesterday I got my hair cut and…

HOLD IT! STOP RIGHT THERE, you, with your finger poised upon the red cross at the top right of your browser. Yes, I see you doing that, but don’t worry, this isn’t one of THOSE posts. You know, those posts where I have a really bad haircut, and then I whine about it, and you all tut-tut and shake your heads and say  We told you so, Amber, why you never listen? (In pidgin English apparently. Huh.) and I’m all I know, I know, but this time I have truly learned my lesson!, but you all know I haven’t, and you’re right, because I never do.

No, it’s not one of THOSE posts. This time. Actually, the haircut was fine. But That Thing happened again. It always does. It happens anywhere I’m forced to make small-talk with people I don’t know, actually, but as I don’t get out much, that means it happens most often at the salon. It goes like this:

STYLIST: So! Off work today are we?

[Thinks: getting her hair done in the middle of the day, wearing an outfit which would in no way be appropriate for a nice, respectable office job: bitch is either out of work, or on a day off. Hope it's the latter, or I'm not getting a tip!]

ME: [Thinks: Oh God, here we go... It's That Thing again, dammit!]

Um, no, actually, I work from home! Am self-employed! Can leave house any time I like, go me!

[Thinks: Why also speaking pidgin English, why?]

STYLIST: Oh, really? What is it that you do?

ME: [I wish I was dead now.] I’m a, er, well, it’s like, I’m one of those…

STYLIST: [Oh God, is hooker!]

ME: I’m a BLOGGER.

STYLIST: ???????

ME: I BLOG.For a living. Also, I wish I was dead. Not for a living, though. Well, kind of.

STYLIST: A booger? That’s a job?

ME: BLAWG. ER. I have blawgs. I mean, blogs. On the Internets.

STYLIST: [The hell?]

[Lengthy pause.]

So! Off anywhere nice on holiday this year?

Red shoes stripe skirt

This happens every single time I meet someone new. Or rather, it DID. You see, after the first few times, I got wise to it. I came to realise that while I live, eat, and breathe blogging, to most of the rest of the world it’s still quite a new, and really totally weird, thing. I realised this after the one-millionth conversation with my mum in which she said, “I met So-and-So today. She asked what you were up to these days, so I told her you were a blogger, and then I had to spend twenty minutes explaining what that was. She still didn’t understand, though. Next time, I think I’ll just say you’re dead.”*

(That last bit was a joke, by the way. Parents very supportive of blogging career. Also totally reading this. In fact, right now, my mum’s turning from her screen to shout, “John! She’s making us look bad on the Internet again! Do you want to phone her this time?”)

(That was also a joke. Mostly.)

Once I realised that people in the Real World aren’t really ready for the concept of blogging for a living, I decided there was no point in mentioning it. So now I just say something like, “I have an online publishing company,” (which is technically true, but always makes me sound like a bit of an asshole) or, more often, “I run a bunch of websites”. Both of these answers have exactly the same conversation-stopping abilities as “I’m a blogger,” though. Not once has anyone ever followed up with “What do you write about?” or anything like that (Well, other than my dentist, but I had my mouth full at the time, so I couldn’t really answer him properly. He still thinks I’m a “dogger”, which is, like, a TOTALLY different thing…): instead, their eyes just take on a glazed look, and I can almost see the cogs in their brains turning as they try to come up with a conversational out. “Trust me to get stuck talking to the weirdo in the room!” I sense them thinking. And then I do that thing where I start talking too fast about absolutely nothing at all, in a bid to cover my embarrassment, and… actually, I wonder if this is why no one ever invites me to their parties any more?

I don’t really know why it should be this way. The Internet, after all, is not a new invention. Neither is publishing. But publishing ON THE INTERNET? WHOA, there, sister! Enough of that crazy talk! Ironically, my websites get more visitors per month than many magazines do, but if I were to tell my stylist I ran a magazine, say, she’d probably find that vaguely interesting – or at least know what I was talking about. Saying you’re a blogger, however, still has a bit of a stigma to it, even it’s only the stigma attached to something that is not yet mainstream enough for people to really “get” it.

Honestly, I blame Jude Law. For a lot of things, actually, but seriously, have you seen Contagion?

red shoes tripe skirt

Anyway, my search for a way to explain what I do for a living without making people recoil in horror continues. Of course, I could just go back to saying “I’m a writer”, but, having done that in the past, I find it makes me sound a lot more interesting than I actually am, and I like to keep people’s expectations of me good and low, so I don’t disappoint them any more than I can help. On second thoughts, maybe I should just stick with “blogger”…

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