So today is a pretty special day for me. I’ve been looking forward to it for a while. See, it was 5 years ago on Labor Day that I reached the 72 hour mark of quitting smoking.
For anyone that isn’t a (former) smoker that’s tried to quit, the 72 hour mark is special because it’s at that point that nicotine has essentially left your body. Instead of fighting both a physical and mental withdrawal, it’s after 72 hours that you’re just facing the old mental cues. You’re over the hump. Once you reach that milestone, you have some real fightin’ odds at staying quit.
And for me, I’ve stayed quit.
And for me to say I’ve stayed quit is quite the accomplishment for those who knew me in those years. I know there’s some people who talk about being casual smokers, or how they’ll smoke a pack in a week. Not me. At my peak, I was smoking three packs a day. Just like the hypocrite in the Fight For Your Right song. When money got real tight, yeah, I “cut back” but I didn’t quit. I just started smoking worse and worse cigarettes. The ones that they don’t really advertise in the convenience marts. The real garbage ones with the American flags on them. That’s the sign of a bad cigarette.
I got so bad and smoked such shit that the convenience store clerk literally started upgrading my cigarettes to nicer smokes out of pity. That’s the sign that you’re in a bad spot.
It was after I started dating Gabriela that this started to change. She told me one day, not long after we started seeing each other, that my smoking would be a real roadblock in our relationship. After reflecting on that and just where I was in life, I decided to quit. I picked Labor Day because if you gotta go through three days of hell, you might as well pick ones where you’re not at work.
So, looking back on these 5 years, I sometimes wonder if I’m even the same person. Old Trent was pretty fat and slovenly, aimless in where he was going in life, spending his time just watching TV or dicking around on the internet. Since then, I’ve found that I enjoy working out and going to the gym. I like running and doing yoga. I lost a lot of weight. I started dressing better and found out, hey, I like fashion! I taught myself how to alter those clothes. Then I taught myself how to make stuff with the sewing machine.
I bought a motorcycle, which I absolutely couldn’t afford if I had kept smoking (I don’t have the numbers, but I estimated that I spent approximately $5,000 on cigarettes). More than that, I started WORKING on motorcycles, rebuilding them, which I found I really liked doing too! Then I started fixing things around the house. I really like tinkering! I refinished an antique cash register for my friend’s wedding. I refinished a vintage enamel dining room table. Apparently, I just like fixing and building and creating.
I’m not saying that I’m a brand new person. I’m not saying Old Trent wouldn’t have wanted to do those things or have those passions. But I am saying that I couldn’t have afforded to pursue any of these endeavors without quitting smoking. I wouldn’t have had the physical tools needed to do a lot of the stuff I do regularly. And I feel like I wouldn’t have had the wherewithal to get off the couch and do something instead of do nothing.
And really, and I honestly realized this today, if I hadn’t quit smoking, I don’t know where my relationship would be. Not saying she would have broken up with me, but frankly, I wouldn’t have been able to afford going to visit her during our 4 year long-distance relationship. Who knows what would have happened if our already infrequent visits had been shortened even more.
Everyone looks forward to their one year anniversary. It’s pretty new. But the 2 year, the 3 year, the 4 year, those just feel like old hat. But the 5 year anniversary? That feels big. According to this handy little webpage (http://whyquit.com/whyquit/A_Benefits_Time_Table.html) I see that this is the year that my risk of stroke starts to decline to that of a non-smoker. Which is good, because it runs in my family. In another 5 years, my risk of lung cancer and diabetes drops. Which is good, because it runs in my family. And in 10 years, my risk of coronary heart disease drops to that of a non-smoker. Which is good, because it runs in my family.
So I’ll spend this Labor Day reflecting back on those painful 72 hours and see how much further I’ve come since then, and where I’ve still got to go.
With the recent attention paid to “the industry” and its pernicious influence on #menswear blogging (which, if you’ll recall, I mentioned as the primary reason I took a blogging hiatus about a month ago [ed. note: not that I’m trying to suggest I’m ahead of the curve… oh wait, no that’s…
Anonymous said: tips on hair products for medium length hair?
Sorry, I wouldn’t know where to start.
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wiwtwg said: In response to your answer on raising the armhole when tailoring a shirt, I am curious to know if your solution results in the loss of the felled seam along the sides and underside of the sleeve. I imagine it does based on the description. I tried and (debatably) succeeded in undoing the side and sleeve seams completely and with enough excess fabric in the chest you can redo the armscye by shortening it and bringing in the sleeve to match. But these two methods sound simpler and more successful.
Unfortunately, you do lose the felled seams when you do this, except for a little out of place part of the seam right at the cuff.
However, in my opinion, it’s not something noticeable. I was even going to put “that noticeable” but truly, I’ve not had one person mention it, nor do I even notice when I look at the shirts now. They’re pretty well hidden when you have your arms down.
I find it a minor sacrifice for ease and speed.
Anonymous said: I have dress shirts I want to alter. I am familiar with altering the torso because I have done it before. What i was wondering is if you can tell me how to raise the armhole so I can taper the sleeve well? I've been to a few tailors and they tell me you have to take fabric from the shoulder. The only problem I can't see getting around is if you take off fabric from the shoulder you will raise the buttonholes and it may look wierd. Any way around this?
I’m trying to visualize what the tailors are saying. I think they would want you to undo the sleeve, undo the shoulder seam that leads to the collar, and then create a taper so that you maintain the same general amount of fabric closer to the colllar, but slowly taking up more fabric closer to the shoulder, which would raise the arm hole. I don’t think that would move the buttons too much.
I may be wrong on that.
What I do, generally, is do one continuous stitch, going up the torso of the shirt, around the armhole, and then continuing with the sleeve, all the way down til it tapers off at the cuff. This raises the armholes while remaining equal to the sleeves, without having to detach anything.
ricky-fitts said: Do you have any tips on thrifting? Like what days to go or how to find the best thrift stores in your area or anything like that?
It’s kind of hard to predict the best days, because each store will be different. I find that Thursdays are pretty good, because they are stocked up but haven’t been hit with the weekend rush. Some of my cooler finds were on the weekdays. If your area is anything like mine, the weekends after say 12 will get just bum rushed with people.
It’s much more about going often than on specific days. If you can hit 5-10 thrift stores weekly, then you have a much better chance of finding some incredible buys than you do going once a month.
http://www.thethriftshopper.com/ will give you a good idea of where you can find thrift stores in your area. I would first try to figure out what you want to find, and kind of allow that to dictate your shopping. For instance, I wear smaller sizes for mens clothing than the average person wears, so I have a much smaller selection to choose from. Because of that, I tend to go for the bigger “chain” stores (Goodwills, Value Village, Salvation Army) than the mom-and-pop stores because simply speaking, the more volume means the more chance I can find anything I like. That said, I’ve heard of some MAJOR scores at the smaller thrift shops simply because less people frequent them.
I’d suggest spending a weekend or two really scouting out all the thrift stores in your area. You can develop a route that expedites the process. I have a few routes so I know which stores to hit in a certain area. Once you’ve hit each store a few times, you’ll definitely see a pattern emerging. Sometimes, a store’s product will be dictated by the neighborhood so a nicer neighborhood will have nicer stuff. Other times, they get their goods from a central processing plant so it can actually pay to go places that aren’t frequented as often. I have stores that I go to almost exclusively for shoes, some places for furniture or tools, etc. because I’ve learned the neighborhood and what type of donations the places get.
I actually have a few articles up about thrifting. Here’s a link to start with: http://survivalofthefittist.com/tagged/thrifting/page/2
I actually started with page 2 so you can work your way backwards. My buddy over at AFistfulofStyle has some incredible articles about thrifting as well: http://afistfulofstyle.tumblr.com/manifesto
Really, the best piece of advice I can give you is to go as often as you can and keep an open mind. If you look around enough, you’re going to find something pretty amazing.
wildericman said: Do you ever get anything at thrift stores? If so, what do you look for?
I’d say probably 95% of my wardrobe is thrifted, as well as a lot of little knicknacks like a vintage sewing machine, old Raleigh 3-speed bicycles from the 60s, an old Smith Corona typewriter, and a ton of other stuff.
At this point, I’ve pretty much have all the staples I need so I either look for upgrades (switching out Allen Edmonds tassel loafers for Aldens) or niche items that I like (patchwork madras pants). Unfortunately, moving away from staples means I have less chance of finding something I’m “looking” for, but it’s always a fun little adventure.
I decided to cull my shoe collection recently. Some didn’t fit my personality anymore, and some weren’t really the right size, so I decided to go ahead and put them up on ebay.
Click here for the auctions
There’s some Allen Edmonds, Aldens, and a pair of Church’s dub monks up for auction.
Sizing’s a bit all over the place, so if you’re 8 1/2-11, check it out!