Been married to a wonderful Korean lady for a bit over two years. I don't to work for any particular school these days – with a simple employment visa, one is tied to one’s employer - so I haven't done so since about last September. I'm doing all my teaching privately now, and it feels wonderful not to have a boss.

 

When I first started at it a year and a half ago, I was still working at a private institute and I really didn't want to take on any students because I liked having a little free time in the afternoon. So, I asked for what I thought was an exorbitant amount of money, which is how one politely refuses in this part of the world. It didn't work, though, just made them believe I must be an excellent teacher if I charged so much. Of course, it also made me decide to become an excellent teacher for them, or do my best in that direction. I’ve learned since that time that what I had asked for was not very extravagant, as it turns out, compared to what is going around.

And I guess I must be teaching them well enough because none of them have left, even after I raised my price last January, except the one who decided she now had enough confidence to enroll in a language program in
Brisbane, Australia. And they have referred me to others. I'm able to feed myself adequately by working about an hour and a half a day, and of course I'm in complete control of the curriculum and the class materials, a lot of which I'm creating on my own because I have plenty of time to do so. The more advanced adult students are learning a lot of idiom expressions, and I teach a 10-year old boy who I've recently started out reading a Roald Dahl novel in addition to the grammar/conversation text we’ve been doing for several months.

 

I haven’t been back in the US since my mother died, and that was in the fall of ’03. I’ve promised myself not to set foot in the country until Geo W Bush is gone from the White House, so perhaps I’ll visit with my new wife next year after President Obama has moved in there. I grew up in the wine country of Northern California, and I’d like to see San Francisco again, Yosemite Valley, maybe New York, and maybe I’d like to drive a car through The American Desert one more time.

 

I’ve been trying to figure why I suddenly decided to start taking photos last fall, after having lived here for so long and not deigning to point the machine at anything except birthday parties. Best suited for another post, I suppose, but I know my initial impulse was just to show this place to people, and I had the notion that my eyes would be different than a Korean person’s, and also different from someone who has been here only a short time.

 

It was the morning of my honeymoon, over 5 years after my arrival, looking out the picture window from the 19th floor of the Millennium Hilton with Namsan Tower a short walk away, and snow was falling on this big, dirty, noisy and confusion Asian city, and even though I’ll always be a California boy and never really belong here, nevertheless I clearly recalling thinking, “This is my home.” And, how remarkable that felt.

 

There’s a lot of ugliness in big cities anywhere, and that’s the easiest thing to notice about this place. For one thing, Koreans are not obsessively worried about clean, neat public spaces, not nearly so much as the Japanese, for instance. But there is beauty here, too, perhaps made more valuable by what surrounds it, what contains it. The title of an old Thelonius Monk song comes to mind, “Ugly Beauty.” That’s what I’m after, a lot of the time.

 

I’ll try to drop a note in this blog every once in a while. It’s only been two months since I joined, but I’ve met a few really good people here already and I suspect I will meet some more as time goes by. I’m very impressed with the mix of people from so many different countries – doesn’t seem to matter if we speak the same language because we’re communicating with our images much more. That’s a nice thing.

 

I have a regular blog, and it’s listed on my profile page. Not very interesting, just day-to-day life, only occasionally about photography, so I won’t bother to mirror everything here that do there. I am a bit grateful to this site because the images I link there from here tend to look better than the other ways I had been doing it in the past.

 

Anyway, I’m the Bobster. Glad to meet you. Let’s have a cup of coffee sometime.