Conversation Stopper

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!]


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?

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?

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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  • How about “I’m an online journalist”? Or maybe just “I get to talk a lot about shoes and clothes and make up and my life”. God, how I’d love to say that.. ;D ♥

    Sarah ^.^

    December 16, 2011
  • Melody via Facebook


    Oh you missed a trick there, Fashion blogger = extra special salon treatment me thinks!

    December 16, 2011
  • Meh, I always get “OOOOOOH, WELL I HAVE THIS DOG/BUDGIE/ALPACA/RHEA BIRD”..or “My dog died”. Everywhere I go.

    But then you could say that you review beauty/hair treatments and get yourself some a-lister treatment 😉

    December 16, 2011
  • Amy


    First commenter said what I was thinking – tell them you are an online beauty and fashion journalist! Then you can talk about beauty and fashion (and maybe they will hope you will give them a nice writeup (even though that’s not your schtick).

    December 16, 2011
  • Cool post ! I hate having to small chat in the barbers, but silence is even worse (Angst: the Hairdresser thinks I’m so dull he doesn’t even want to ask me what football team I support, eek)
    Love the pictures

    December 16, 2011
  • When you figure it out, can you let me know? I tend to say something along the lines of “I write/edit and online fashion magazine’ or go for the previously mentioned ‘online journo’

    December 16, 2011
  • Stephen


    Haha. Kov

    December 16, 2011
      • Stephen


        Oops. I *may* have been slightly tipsy on the train. Sayin’ nuffin.

        December 17, 2011
  • Stephen


    Haha. LOVE this. Favourite. Blog post. Ever. Damn you for making me laugh out loud on the way home! 🙂

    December 16, 2011
  • Erika


    A great post, and, in my opinion, you have a great job!

    December 16, 2011
  • hahaha I’ve had that conversation too. Although I don’t blog for a living, but when I do say i’m a BLOGGER…
    people: what’s a blog????
    Me: it’s like a website? You post stuff ?
    People: like facebook? I have facebook.
    Me: *facepalm*

    December 17, 2011
  • Sandy


    I always find myself tailing off when I talk about something I’ve read online, usually on a blog….it’s when, as you say, their eyes glaze over you know there’s really no point in carrying on.

    I don’t really get people who don’t know internet! LOL!!

    December 17, 2011
  • hahaha Great post! I thought that this problem wasn’t so big in other countries…Never thought that you would have a problem explaining your job. Maybe you should tell them that you manage various fashion and beauty related websites, as others said above. This may intrigue them. After all who whouldn’t want to do what they love and get paid for it?
    In my case, very few of my friends know about my blog, and even fewer have asked me what it is about, or showed any interest in visiting it. So, I don’t expect strangers to understand what is the purpose of blogging. Very few do.

    December 17, 2011
  • lila


    I close my eyes and try to sleep at the hairdressers, that way there is no eye contact, ha ha! I pretend I am meditating!

    December 17, 2011
  • Haha! I always get strange looks when I say I have a blog, people just don’t get it. Especially in your case when it’s in fact your job. An amazing job, that is 🙂 You should just tell them you write about shoes and fashion all day and you get paid for it, what’s better than that? Also: say you’re reviewing hair products or something, you could get a special treatment or free products, haha 🙂

    December 17, 2011
  • Suya


    Sadly it’s not only blogs and the Internets – try to say “What do I study? Why, social anthropology, of course!” … and there you go explaining for half an hour.

    December 18, 2011
  • Just LMAO and that’s all I can say!!

    December 18, 2011
  • I had a total LOL moment when you said your mom was just going to start saying you were dead. What a total crack-up! 🙂
    This is such a great post. obviously we all can totally relate, even if, like me, it’s still just a hobby. People just do not get it.

    December 19, 2011
  • hhahaha, loved this post, because I also dread saying what I do, so I say “I’m a writer…. and I have a website” instead of going for the blogging thing. But yes, as you point out, it makes me sound more interesting that I really am, and sometimes I get unwanted attention from males who think it’s “soooooo interesting” and I’m “sooooo different to other women”…. jeez it makes me really not want to say what I do. Glad to see I’m soooooo 😉 not the only one.

    December 21, 2011
  • I usually go with writer, but then people seem kind of disappointed when I say I write for the _internet_. And my parents friends are always asking if I’m interested in writing a novel. Well, yes, there’s _interest_ there, but that doesn’t really get a novel written now does it.

    The most unfortunately thing is my mother is the absolute worst about not knowing what I do/thinking I don’t work.

    December 21, 2011
  • I get this a lot too! I’m a paid blogger, and many just don’t understand the whole concept of it. So I just say I’m a ‘website editor’ (though this usually confuses people even more, or they immediately assume it’s porn) or ‘I write for a website’. Either way, it’s still annoying. >.<

    December 21, 2011
  • Meagan


    These are insanely good photos. So creative! I love the first one with your dog!

    January 12, 2012
  • I found you from EBEW and fell in love with those incredible heels!

    This post is definitely interesting to me. I’m a new blogger, so I can’t even imagine being a full-time blogger. However, just telling people I have a blog is weird, especially to say “I take pictures of myself and post them so other people can see my clothes.” Yeah, they just don’t get it.

    January 14, 2012
  • Hi Amber!

    Definitely say “Blogger”… perhaps that will have one more person tuning in to your site, which by the way is hilarious! I am a new blogger on the block myself and discovered your site via EBEW referred to me by a friend last week. Love the pops of red, the hair being the best! Your writing is great… very funny.
    Please stop by sometime if you will!

    Regards, Whitley Adkins Hamlin

    January 15, 2012
  • lovely shoes! 😀


    January 23, 2012
  • haha. That’s a great conversation with your stylist, eh. And truly I can relate to you. The truth is, even this world is full of computers and internet and technology, people still wonder of how a “blogger” works for a living. And indeed it is very difficult to explain. btw, love your shoes and skirt. Pretty and chic!

    February 1, 2012