This is Greg and Kathy Berg’s Fun Money Jar. It sits up in our bedroom, and we regularly empty our pockets of spare change and dump it in there – and then every twelve years when my crazy schedule allows us to take a trip, we take the jar and its contents to the bank and convert it into what we hope will be a nice little bit of added Fun Money.
When one is taking a trip to New York City, you want to have as much Fun Money as you possibly can or you might find yourself walking from LaGuardia to Time Square or subsisting on M&Ms by your last day. Everything costs money in NYC, and I remember Pastor Jeff saying once in a sermon that when you’re in NYC you feel like 90% of the time you’re handing money over to someone – a lot of money. Woe to the person who actually keeps track of how much money they spend in a place like New York City; I can’t think of anything more horrifying. I would much rather just spend it – not recklessly or with abandon but certainly without a running tab looming over my shoulder like some massive mountain of red ink. I’m lucky that Kathy feels largely the same way; she is the checkbook balancer in our marriage (not exactly shocking news to anyone who knows us) but she knows how to put the calculator away in the interests of relaxing and having some fun.
So we’re off to NYC for the next five days- joined by our friend Trevor Parker – and I am fortunate in that Tremper H.S. is paying my way for the most part, since I’m playing for them for a choral competition. We made the choice to stay at a hotel in the heart of Manhattan rather than with the choir in Newark, New Jersey and we’re responsible for making up the difference in cost- which is roughly 15 million dollars, by my estimate – but we like the idea of being where the fun is and of spending less of the trip in the back of a cab watching the number on that meter go up. We will cross paths with the choir for a rehearsal at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine (which Kathy and I have never seen) and join them for at least one meal and for a couple of shows. Otherwise, we’re on our own and looking forward to being Out of Dodge for a few days, taking in some sights we haven’t yet seen like the Metropolitan Museum of Art or Top of the Rock (the new observation deck at the top of the Rockefeller Center) and some familiar favorites like the Metropolitan Opera and the Museum of Television and Radio. (Okay, those last two are two of my favorites more than Kathy’s.)
Actually, we had a good laugh the other day when we were working out the schedule and we realized that Friday morning I would need to be in New Jersey with the choir for the actual competition, and Kathy and Trevor would stay back in Manhattan. I made it clear that they were not to do ANYTHING that I would regret missing, and they had to limit themselves to visiting sites that I have no interest in seeing. I even made a list. On Friday morning, they are allowed to visit the Swedish-American Research Institute, the Museum of Bulgarian Cooking Implements, and the World Institute of Finance. Anything more interesting than that is strictly off=limits until I rejoin them in the afternoon. Looks like a fun day. That night will be what I hope is a highlight of the trip- Tristan und Isolde at the Metropolitan Opera. Every single performance of the opera this season has been marred by either the Tristan or the Isolde canceling because of illness, but we’re hoping for good health for all by Friday night. Otherwise, that could be a very long five and a half hours. By the way, I should have added to our list of “Firsts” that we are attending a performance at Carnegie Hall our last night in NYC – a choral concert featuring Luther College’s Tim Peter on the podium. In all of our trips to Big Apple, we have never managed to get any further than the lobby, so we are really excited about that.
(One thing that makes me sad- We will just miss Marshall, who has been in NYC the last several days attending the Met.)
So how much Fun Money was in our jar? $204. That’s a lot of opera videos, as I like to say . . . . or just enough to cover our cab costs from the airport to Manhattan and back again. That’s New York City. Fun.