National Entrepreneur Center

Cupcakes, entrepreneurs, and a free pair of Southwest tickets.

Panoramic view of the National Entrepreneur Center in Orlando

I started my own business ten years ago. I did not, as I thought at that moment, know it all. I didn’t even know part of it. I also didn’t know about the National Entrepreneur Center.

Last night, I was invited to partake in an event with free wine and food where we could learn about the NEC and what they have to offer. They had me at free wine.

Sunshine Baker and Adam "Darkness" Avitable

I drink my wine like a classy MF – out of a red solo cup. Photo courtesy of Sunshine Baker. I’ll be the Darkness to her Sunshine.

Put on by Edgecore, with food from Tijuana Flats and cupcakes from Gigi’s Cupcakes, the event took place at the National Entrepreneur Center, located in its own huge section of the Fashion Square Mall.

The last time I voluntarily went into a mall, it was because a girl wanted my opinion (translation: credit card) on some outfits she was buying at Victoria’s Secret, so it was with some trepidation that I entered the vast wasteland of 90s consumerism, threading through kiosks offering everything from vaporizers to cell phone accessories to other products of dubious quality.

What I found was an impressive organization that provides free counseling, low-cost business seminars, and access to a fantastic list of resources, from the US Department of Commerce employees who help businesses who want to export out of the United States to the National Association of Women Business Owners: Orlando, the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Metro Orlando and many others.

And then there were the amazing cupcakes. Gaze upon them and drool out of jealous deprival:

Gigi's Cupcakes of Orlando

Gigi's Cupcakes of Orlando

Anyone with aspirations of starting a business in Central Florida should stop by and take advantage of what the NEC has to offer. If you’re looking for some business ideas, here are some products and services that I think the market severely lacks:

  • Pizza delivery, but by strippers who stay and eat pizza and watch Futurama with you;
  • Sex ninjas;
  • Bacon seasoned with Red Bull for that caffeinated boost;
  • A video game where you just try to get your dad to say he’s proud of you even though you read books instead of playing sports;
  • A dating site that matches large hairy men with tiny beautiful redheads;
  • Trees that grow money, because it’s about time;
  • Instant cloning technology for adventurous sexual escapades;
  • An app that notifies the user of the closest place selling bacon; and
  • A U-turn signal for those assholes who screw everybody up in the left-turn lane at those 12-second green arrows all over Orlando.

Thanks again to the National Entrepreneur Center for hosting this event – every time I think I know everything about Orlando, I’m treated to gems like this place, which could benefit from more publicity and notice. And thank you for allowing me to offer this contest to my readers.

That’s right. How does the prospect of winning two MFing plane tickets from Southwest Air sound? One lucky reader will be chosen to win, and the contest ends on October 24th!

Just enter below, and then get your ass working on that sex ninjas business, okay?

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Rain on your wedding day

Divorce and the Lace Anniversay. Thirteen Years Later.

I still haven’t gotten rid of that fucking calendar notification.

Why not?

I don’t know.

It seems like it should be easy.

Just click “delete”.

Yet I can’t.

anniversary_02

Will I get married again? Sure. No. Maybe. There are too many steps from this point in my life to even get to the consideration of another marriage.

I should probably do more dating. Get into a healthy relationship with someone to whom I’m attracted, who I trust, who doesn’t have baggage that colors her every action. Find someone to share my life with.

But it’s so hard. I have an active social life. I’m out performing 3-4 nights a week. I work a day job that has taken over my life. I work until I stress myself out and then I crawl under the covers and sleep until I have to do something else. Where does someone else fit?

Today would have been my 13th anniversary. Thirteen years ago, I stood in a church, an immature 24-year old with no idea of the burdens coming his way, and professed a promise to someone whom he loved. And man, did I fuck that one up royally.

I think, maybe, it’s a good idea to keep the reminder around a bit longer. Not to wallow in the past but to remain motivated. This is my reminder to strive towards happiness, to avoid settling out of a fear of being alone, and to remain secure in who I am when I let someone new into my life.

So this year I’ll just buy myself something lacy and frilly and keep on moving forward. Do you think Victoria’s Secret has something that will fit a gorilla?

robyn-avitable-birthday

You Didn’t Hear It From Me, But My Mom Turns Sixty Today

“Now that you’re getting divorced, can I tell you what I really think about her?”
-Robyn L. Avitable, December 31, 2009

“What does NASA stand for? Need Another Seven Astronauts. Just don’t tell anyone at school I said that.”
-Robyn L. Avitable, January 29, 1986

Robyn Avitable being silly

Those two quotes sum my mother up perfectly. In the former, I see the massive love and support she provided even while knowing throughout my entire relationship that was she was right all along and I should have listened in the first place. The latter is demonstrable evidence of her morbidly razor sharp sense of humor and her total knowledge that at nine years old, I was ready to hear a joke about the Challenger explosion that had occurred less than 24 hours prior.

Robyn and Jim Avitable in front of Mount Rushmore

That’s my mother. Robyn Leah-Ann Smith Avitable, born July 12th, 1954. The only girl out of four children, she stayed ahead of her brothers by being the smartest, the most twisted, and the most independent. My mother reached a pinnacle in her career without once using her gender as a crutch, as a tool, or even acknowledging it at all. She never let the parameters of her job in healthcare keep her from accomplishing as much as she wanted, and I have always been impressed by the total respect that she commanded from those who were not only below her or on her level, but by those who outranked her.

Robyn Avitable at age 59

My mother has always been a leader. She didn’t have role models because she made her own path and became the person who inspired others. Throughout my childhood and even to this day, my mother was and remains the person that you go to when you have a problem. Any problem. She might not be able to solve it, but she’ll know where to start. And she’ll almost always be right.

Robyn Avitable hates pictures

Her confidence is unparalleled, and I have only seen a handful of times when that security was shaken. She knows what she wants, she has a plan to get it, and I have never seen her at a loss (though she does hate having her picture taken). Throughout my divorce, my father’s struggle with epilepsy, my grandmother’s descent into Alzheimer’s, and myriad family upheavals and drama, she’s been the anchor. I can’t think of a time when we didn’t look to my mother to tell us what to do next.

Now, she’s retired. She and my father (who took all of the recent photos in this post and posted them on his entertaining blog at http://jimandrob.tumblr.com/) are currently splitting their time between the house in Ormond Beach, where I grew up, and their place in Utah. I don’t see retirement lasting forever, though. My mother, a voracious reader with an appetite that rivals mine, will get bored with the relaxation and reading after time, and I’m sure she’ll set her sights on something new. Will she write a book that talks about her adventures at Mass General Hospital leading to her career at Memorial Hospital in Florida? Will she volunteer to care for those who can’t care for themselves? Or will she wait for one of us to have children of our own so she can just be a kick-ass grandmother? Time will tell.

Jimmy, Robyn, and Adam Avitable

Mom, I didn’t get you a gift card to Amazon – there’s no thought in that. I didn’t send you flowers, because you hate flowers. I didn’t get you anything tangible other than a birthday card because you buy what you want when you want to, and you have almost everything you want in life. The best gift I can give you is my skill with words (other than a grandchild – I know!), so this post is your birthday present. I would say that I hope you like it, but I know you will.

As I grow older, I recognize how similar we are. We may have different viewpoints, and we may not agree on some fundamental issues, but there’s nobody I would rather be like. When my friends come to me to be their problem solver, therapist, life preserver, motivator, comedian, and walking encyclopedia, I know my ability to fill those roles, pursue my own goals, and follow my own path is thanks in large part to you.

Mom, thank you for being the best role model and mentor that any son could ever ask for, and happy birthday. I love you.

Morality is subjective

A Comprehensive Gallery of Crying Fans After Brazil’s Loss to Germany in the 2014 World Cup

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Adam Avitable's wedding ceremony

I Wish That I Had Never Met You

“I’ll be honest, I can’t tell you how much I wish that I had never met you, you narcissistic asshole.”

Her email ended as abruptly as it had appeared in my inbox – the first communication in over a year. We finalized our divorce a little over four years ago, but there was still the occasional conversation, through email, text, or even the phone. I wasn’t surprised by the radio silence over the last year, though – while I am happy to be there as a friend, I knew that her resentment hadn’t dissipated.

I know that getting her to listen to anything I have to say would require nigh-Herculean efforts. She’s made up her mind. So, this isn’t for her. This is for me.

I’m sorry that I let you down.
I’m sorry that we ended our life together.
I’m sorry that I betrayed your trust and love.
I’m sorry that things turned out how they did.

I’ll never be sorry that we met.

We are the sum of our experiences. We are our past. I am who I am, in large part, because of our time with each other.  And I like who I am. It’s taken years of work. It took a failed marriage. It cost friendships. It resulted in indulgences of every appetite.

By reflecting on negative experiences  and focusing on eliminating my own negative attitudes and actions, I’ve become a better person. Yeah, I’m still a narcissist and an exhibitionist and a boundary-pushing twisted attention-mongerer. But it’s what I do with that and how I use that to apply to the world that matters.

Our lives traveled an amazing path when we were together, and if it hadn’t been for that, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. I hope someday that you’re able to like who you are enough to feel the same way.

 

Where Avitable lives.