Mandarin and Mint Undies

Mandarin and mint-scented undies. Mmmmmm.

Yes, this has to do with Surrey.

I’m sort of a freak about organizing things for a trip. This is rather odd considering in my youth I always carried extra clothes in my outfit in case someone mentioned going somewhere that sounded fun. Then there were the beer runs to Wyoming to buy Coors. At that time, you couldn’t buy Coors in Montana, so we would occasionally make a run to Wyoming to stock up. It was always a fun trip and a good money maker as it was easy to sell off everything you had in the back of the pickup. I was ready to roll at the drop of a hat and I always carried a hat to drop.

In my older years, I like to be prepared. Well, I probably did then also or I wouldn’t have carried extra clothes with me. Now, though, I make lists, lots of lists, and check them twice. I had tried on clothes, decided which shirts, vests, jackets, and camisoles went with which pants best. I narrowed down my choices of boots to the bullhide lace up ropers and the red boots. I made sure I had an extra change of clothes and extra undies.

Even though RIL said at Evil Editor’s birthday party there would be anon sex, I didn’t pack anything sexy. I didn’t sign up for the anon sex and didn’t even see it on the registration. I need to talk to RIL about misinformation like that.

Most everything was strictly practical.

Since I got off work late and was afraid I would oversleep, I just stayed up and finished up some things that needed to be done. Even with staying up all night, or what was left of it, I was packing at the last minute and checking things off the lists as I did so. I had the clothes bag packed. The laptop and its accessories were packed. Writing tools were packed. The only thing I really had left was to pack was the carry on duffle bag I bought on Ebay that had the two boot pockets for the extra pair of boots.

The duffle bag was where I kept underwear, makeup, camisoles, teeshirts, wiglet, some extra clothes that didn’t fit in the clothes bag, etc. Imagine my surprise when I put the boots in the bags and the zippers didn’t work. Oh, more surprises, the main zipper doesn’t work either. Not good. It’s 4:00 a.m. and I don’t have time to go buy a carry on.

I frantically dug around the apartment and finally found Will’s Rockwell Tools toolbag. I had to leave some things behind since it didn’t hold as much as the duffle bag did, but it would work.

A note to anyone who hasn’t traveled recently. Get the luggage with wheels. Carrying the stuff that doesn’t seem that heavy to begin with is an exercise in frustration. This is especially true when the airport computers are screwed up and the flight boards have completely deleted one airline so you wind up walking up and down an airport, trying to find your flight. If you’re lucky, you’ll have a three-hour layover to find your missing flight.

Lisa, bless her heart, was completely prepared for all my luggage. I’m sure the guys at the border wondered, however, when we got chosen to be searched.

Scalp. Elf ears. Fake flesh. They had to wonder.

“Are you taking any products in you don’t intend to return with?”

“Thousands of pens and notepads I hope to give away.”

“Why are you entering Canada?”

“We’re going to a writer’s conference in Surrey.”

“How long will you be here?’

I’m sure they thought several weeks given the amount of clothes in my bags.

So, we make it into Canada without incident and head to Surrey. Two hours later, I searched the map Lisa has Googled and discover we are far north of where we need to be. Ah, the scenic route. That happens when you have two gals catching up on years of visiting and comparing notes on how to handle stalkers.

I’ve already called the hotel twice to confirm we will be in and they need to hold my room, so we aren’t worried.

We unpack clothes so they won’t be all wadded up and that’s when it hits me I am missing something vital…underwear. I have one extra pair, the rest, apparently, got left behind when I switched luggage in a panic as I was already running late.

Hmmm, this is not good. We stopped at a drugstore earlier to get some things I had to leave behind at the airport because I had too many liquids in my carry on. I had three baggies and you are only allowed to have one. I have everything I need, but undies.

We discussed this with Beth at breakfast the next morning and she suggested going to the mall nearby to buy some. Going shopping in the middle of a conference is not easy, especially when you can’t pass up the bar at night.

What to do. I am not going commando. Face cleaner? Soap? Toothpaste?

Mandarin and mint shampoo. Works for me. Wash undies every night and let them dry on the towel bar.

More conference tips.

1. Decide ahead of time what you are wearing and try it on.

2. Rolling luggage!

3. Luggage with zippers that work.

4. Writing tools to take lots of notes. The hotel was fantastic about supplying lots of pens, but it’s always good to be prepared just in case.

5. Extra copies of query letters, first pages, first chapter. If you go to the blue pencil cafes, you’ll want fresh copies to mark up.

6. No cologne or perfume. I was kind of aghast at this, but when one of the agents on a panel mentioned she is highly asthmatic and had to sit way back from people who had appointments with her if they had just smoked or had cologne on, it struck home how important this is. The last thing you want is an agent trying to get away from you before you shut down their breathing.

7. Snacks for the room. It’s just good to be able to grab something quick in the downtime without having to order things in the restaurant.

8. Buy whatever you need before the conference starts. You won’t have time during.


  1. “The last thing you want is an agent trying to get away from you before you shut down their breathing.”

    A simple idea, but it does seem important. Don’t strangle agents.

    Some of the other ideas are nice as well, though I hope to avoid wearing mandarin and mint undies.

  2. Julie,

    HAHA! Right after your last post mentioning this, I went home and saw that Destructo had gone through my makeup bag.

    Lo and behold there was a bottle of “Mandarin and Mint” body lotion. Instant connection – guess where I swiped it from? (g)

    Oh and if you and Lisa want to get a 3rd roommate next year to save on costs, I’m in!

  3. Tara, isn’t that just the most luscious lotion?

    We had so much fun. The giggling going on while we were curling our foot hair was unbelievable. We should have used mousse.

    We could really have a pajama party if you joined us!

  4. Justus, yes, it really did hit home when Jenoyn was talking about not being able to breathe. I restricted myself to the hand lotion the hotel furnished, thank goodness.

    Mandarin and mint, it’s not just for undies!

  5. comparing notes on how to handle stalkers

    By “handle,” I’m assuming you mean “discourage.” In which case I cannot urge you enough to add to the list, “Do not post blog entries like ‘Mandarin and Mint Undies.'”

    In fact, I just pasted those four words into Google. You’ll be happy to know this post of yours is at the top of the search-results heap. You may be less happy with some of the company you’re keeping. [g]

    Love the Surrey stories!

  6. Eeeew, looked at some of the company I was keeping. Gasp!

    As for the stalkers, yes, we compared notes on how to get rid of them. Lisa, as you might guess, is the more civilized of us.

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