11 for '11: Personal Experiences

When I sat down to write this post, I had a lot of trouble narrowing down all the things I did this year to 11 bullet points. I took plenty of out-of-state trips (both for business and pleasure), saw a lot of in-person sporting events, went to four different comic book conventions and took in more live concerts than I had since college.

Even after mashing some of the events together and ending up with 11 I was really happy with, I still had a hard time ranking them. How can I compare the week-long experience of San Diego Comic-Con with a two-hour Britney Spears concert? Conversely, how can I expect three days in Baltimore to match the energy level of one night Watching the Throne? So in the end, I scrapped the ranking entirely and I'm just listing my Top 11 chronologically, which is why they're not numbered. But trust me, there are 11.

- "The South Beach Diaries"

I chronicled my week-long trip to Miami to see four Heat games (and buy an iPad) pretty well back in March, but one of the things I left out was that for three of the four games I went to, I had the same seat, one directly in between two longtime Heat season ticket holders. The two couples knew each other pretty well, and when I first showed up for the Heat-Bulls game on Sunday afternoon, I was just the latest random interloper who picked up a single-game ticket in a really good seat. When I made it back the next game, they recognized me. My ticket for the Lakers game was somewhere else in the arena, but when I returned to that familiar seat for the Grizzlies game on Saturday, both of the men sitting directly next to me joked how they'd missed me for the previous game. We also joked about me sitting in that seat being a jinx, since the Heat had lost to the Bulls and Blazers to start the trip. Fortunately it wasn't, and I ended up saying goodbye to my friends for a week with a blowout win over Memphis.

- Boston Comic Con & Rachel Platten/Lucy Woodward Concert

This wins the fortuitous timing award for the year. I had been planning to go to Boston Comic Con for a while before the show, and I'd wanted to see Lucy Woodward in concert for years. As it turned out, she was in Boston the weekend of Comic Con. As great as the convention was, the concert was definitely the high point of the weekend, taking place at the incredibly intimate setting of Cafe 939, which was one of the coolest concert-going experiences of my life.

- NBA Finals, Game 2

Yes, I'm still very pissed the Heat lost this game. In fact, I'm probably more pissed now than I was the night of the game; as I wrote in my post, had the Heat won the series, I probably would have eventually taken the loss much better in the long run. But that doesn't change the fact that I got to see LeBron James play in an NBA Finals game in person, and I also got to see one of the most memorable Finals games in recent years.

- San Diego Comic Con

OK, so there are like a million things from this particular event that I could highlight, but I still get tingly when thinking about the "Ringer" panel and getting to ask Sarah Michelle Gellar a question. The best part? Thanks to the wonderful folks at Buffyfest, I don't just have to think about it. I can watch it whenever I want. And I do. A lot. I'm not saying I'm responsible for half of the views on that video, but I'm not NOT saying that either.

- Britney Spears Femme Fatale Tour

I honestly wavered back and forth about even going to this show, but in the end I was really glad I bought a ticket and went, because it was an incredible show (not "Circus" tour incredible, but pretty damn close) and getting to do the backstage tour before the concert was a nice bonus.

- Baltimore Comic Con / Summer Basketball Games

Let's recap this particular weekend: went to Baltimore Comic Con, where I got Amazing Spider-Man #1, some incredible artwork from Ron Frenz and the late Dave Hoover (among others) and, oh yeah, met Stan Lee. If that wasn't enough, I went to the Rucker Park vs. Melo League game on Friday, where I got to talk with Brandon Jennings and Gary Neal, then went to the Drew League vs. Goodman League game the next night where I interviewed Delonte West about working at a hardware store (really!). I remember getting back to Connecticut and being exhausted, but it was totally worth it.

- Mets Social Media Night

I enter a lot of contests, but very rarely win. So to win free tickets to this Mets game on Twitter was really nice. To win a Jason Bay autographed bat while at the game was even better. Plus, meeting Justin Turner and R.A. Dickey was an added high point. The power of social media.

- New York Comic Con & Lucy Woodward Concert

Honestly, this would have made the list of 11 on the strength of the Avengers panel alone. But the entire weekend was really special. The show itself was everything I could have hoped for, from meeting artists and writers I admire, to getting autographs from stars I love to the simple joy of making line friends (and meeting up with line friends from conventions past, which is really freaking amazing). On top of the Javits Center experience, I had a great night with some friends I'd previously only known on Twitter, and another great night at another Lucy Woodward concert. Really just four days and nights of excellence.

- Watch The Throne Tour

I wrote this the day after the show and it stands now. This was easily the best concert I've ever been to. I think the only thing that was a letdown was that they "only" performed "Ni**as in Paris" three times. They did it as many as 11 times in one show at other tour stops. I'm not saying I wanted 11, but five might have been nice.

- Lehigh-Towson FCS Playoff Game

I'm still not sure exactly how this happened. When I was in school, Towson was mediocre to above average, and that was in their best years. Two years ago, I went to a handful of games, and the Tigers were terrible, finishing the season 2-9. They were actually worse last year, going 1-10. Yet somehow, there I was on the first Saturday in December at a Towson home playoff game. Sure, the Tigers lost, but just going down to Towson, catching up with old friends, and taking in the experience of playoff football was incredible.

- Vikings-Redskins Game

This was not playoff football. This was late regular season football between two teams that had nothing to play for. But this wasn't about the football itself. This was about the coolness of sitting second row in the end zone with my Dad on Christmas Eve Day, watching my favorite NFL team. I've been to quite a few NFL games with my Dad, including a couple Redskins games, but this was the first time we've ever been to FedEx Field together, and being so close to the action made it that much more special. (Oh, and I do have actual pictures from the game, but they're on my dad's camera, so I need to grab those from him at some point).