Welcome to Laundry List, yet another Wildchild column, which is essentially a list masquerading as an article. Call it a listicle, if you will. What is a laundry list exactly? It is defined as “a long or exhaustive list of people or things.” We’ve deliberately kept the column title vague so we can talk about anything that tickles our fancy. No refunds if the list is not long or exhaustive.
When 2021 was drawing to a close, I found myself in the mood for a sentimental wrap-up but was swamped with social engagements and work assignments. This time, instead of writing a personal essay, I compiled a list of articles that I’ve written and edited across the year — which turned out pretty lengthy too since I also offer some background information and additional context from when I was working on them.
The only article that was uploaded in January is a personal essay about body image and our insidious preoccupation with women’s bodies. It showcases how the general culture of curtailing female appetite contributes towards young women’s substantially disordered attitudes and behaviors toward food and eating. After seeds of shame were planted in the contributor, she had to make a conscious effort to cultivate self-acceptance.
Received an invitation for the launch of a new core scent at Maison 21G’s flagship store, which I attended with Dilys, my close friend. I ended up passing my perfume concoction to another pal, who was curious about the brand. My bottle from the first workshop is still pretty full because I use it sparingly, so I’m glad that the second one didn’t go to waste. I try to distribute the PR products that Wildchild receives — the rare material perks from running this site — amongst my team members because I’m wary of excessive consumption on my part.
In March, I also wrote a response to Today Online’s column about cancel culture and being woke in Singapore, which I posted an entire week after the article was published. Writing the piece was already an all-consuming affair but before I was done with my research, my cancer-stricken grandfather was admitted to a hospital on a Thursday because we suspected that he had pneumonia.
That weekend, I spent the bulk of my time typing away on the cube-shaped couch in the waiting area outside his ward — my family members had to take turns to keep him company due to COVID restrictions — until the wee hours of the night. When he passed away, I was still not done writing. I had errands to run for the wake and so I wrote on my way to and back from the funeral parlor. The first night of his wake, my friends and I prepared the cover image for my article and I was grateful that I could throw myself into the funeral arrangements and writing.
Coincidentally, that was the day I read about the term “manic defence”, which described how I felt. Manic defence is “the tendency, when presented with uncomfortable thoughts or feelings, to distract the conscious mind either with a flurry of activity or with the opposite thoughts or feelings. […] the essence of the manic defence is to prevent feelings of helplessness and despair from entering the conscious mind by occupying it with opposite feelings of euphoria, purposeful activity, and omnipotent control.” And when I read that, I was grateful for the newsletter run by one of my favorite writers, because what a gift it was to have my emotions and behaviors explained to me.
Edited a diary on intermittent fasting, which opened my eyes to the fact that it was an eating pattern and not a diet. While the contributor’s goal was to lose weight, she was working towards a healthier body and was careful to prioritize her mental health throughout the process.
Edited a personal essay on OkCupid, which was the first — and only — dating app review we had for 2021. Our essays on dating apps tend to get the most hits and draw the most traffic to the site. Since the advent of the pandemic, the easiest way to meet your cute is online. Having more friends on dating apps has only increased my fascination with their experiences and I’m constantly on the lookout for reviews and cultural critiques about the phenomenon of online dating.
Wrote an essay on death recollection i.e. thinking about mortality, which is a piece about how losing my grandfather radically altered the way I viewed the world. I explored a new format: including relevant reading recommendations after a personal essay. The feedback I got was that the recommendations really killed the vibe so I guess that’s the first and last time we’re doing that! Would also like to report that I still think about death pretty often but not as extensively as before.
Finally published my own money diary — mainly because I was facing difficulty finding contributors — which I recorded in February. It was surreal to look back on the days when my grandfather was still around and when the lives of my family members circled around his needs.
Edited the work diary of a jaded public servant, which performed really well on Instagram. I had no idea that the contributor’s gripes with their management would resonate with so many young adults across the public sector, given the wide range of jobs and industries.
I didn’t post anything for the month of July and across the weeks, it sure felt like I was neglecting my baby. Not working on Wildchild was liberating though, since the pressure to check on the site receded as time passed. But in my absence, I was actually writing more than I have ever done so in my entire life.
I was channeling all my energy into a short story within a short time frame so that was all I could focus on. I read extensively for research — mostly memoirs and personal essays — and spent almost every waking moment thinking about how to improve my work. In some ways, I felt like I was back at school again; it did feel good to dedicate my full attention and self to a project. Most importantly, I took the time to delve into creative non-fiction, the genre that I want to spend the rest of my life exploring.
I accepted a pitch from the agency that does PR for Durex because the focus of the article was less on the products themselves and more on Singapore society’s views on sex and intimacy, which was a cultural topic that I was interested in.
With the help of my friends from Not A Dating App (NADA), I asked young adults some questions about sex and dating to normalize talking about sexuality in Singapore society. I wrote the piece at no charge and retained complete autonomy over the angle and content. I also got to have fun with the pseudonyms — some of my respondents were named after characters from Netflix’s hit series, Never Have I Ever.
A month later, the agency sent a media gift that consisted of chocolates as well as chocolate- and strawberry-flavored condoms for a product launch, which was delivered to a member of NADA.
Experimented with yet another format, one that was half diary, half personal essay. I documented the days that I took my COVID vaccinations since I cherished the novelty of the experience, from the administrative process to the curious side effects.
Attended a rug-tufting workshop at Tuft Club and decided to chronicle the experience because the instructors took high-quality photos of all their participants. It was by far the most memorable and interesting DIY workshop that I’ve attended, though it was also undoubtedly the priciest.
Wrote a listicle about where to find Lorde’s outfits from her latest musical era. For my research, I listened to podcasts and read articles about Solar Power the album but didn’t include them in the final piece because they were ultimately irrelevant to her style evolution. I procrastinated a lot and almost gave up on the article at one point because of how tedious it was to search for the brands, product shots, as well as photos of Lorde in the outfits.
On my birthday, I received a press release from an agency as well as a media invite to Halu Hair Design. At first, I dismissed it. After some thought, I decided to accept the invitation as I was able to come up with an angle that did not involve hard-selling — I was right in the middle of an emotional transformation and it seemed opportune for me to manifest a physical change too.
When I arrived at the salon on the day of my appointment, I discovered that my hairstylist was unaware of my arrangement with the PR agency due to some miscommunication. After I explained that I was there for a media preview, he patiently replied to all my questions about the salon and his experience as a Japanese expat in Singapore.
At the end of the haircut, my stylist even asked if I would return in the future so that he could use shots of my hairstyles for social media. I had such a lovely time at the studio and I initially intended to include his name and more of his personality in the article. However, my stylist specially requested for me to focus on the salon in general and to avoid placing the spotlight on him so that customers will not develop preferences for a particular stylist.
I got the opportunity to interview Andrew, the co-founder of Aroma Coffee because my friend was working for the brand. The piece was not an advertisement; it just stemmed from my desire to shine the spotlight on those who are devoted to their craft. This article also reignited my interest in interviewing more creatives and personalities for Young Ambition and I started reaching out to artists that I admired.
To show his appreciation, Andrew kindly sent a box of coffee to me. It contained four bottles of Spreeze (Creme Caramel, Dirty Earl, Summer Blossom, Blackforest) as well as two bottles of Single-Origin Cold Brew in White and Black. I shared it with my family and friends, who were all very pleased with the coffee.
Was very excited when our latest feature series, My Life in 10 Tracks, finally made its debut. I certainly did not expect the first contribution to be written anonymously — shoutout to our iconic Anonymous Alex — since it is actually a special edition; subsequent features will have public identities.
I usually reject pitches about event coverage, since such articles are not evergreen in nature. However, my dear friend Jett, who has a wealth of experience in theatre, was available and happy to interview the director and actors from Split Theatre. This, too, was not a paid advertisement but the production house did give him complimentary tickets.
In 2021, I published half the amount of articles that I did in my first year. From time to time, I would scroll through the homepage of this site and wish that I had the time and energy to write more. So I have to constantly remind myself that I don’t have to be productive all the time and that Wildchild is but my weekend pet project.
By the end of 2021, I came to the realization that I don’t actually want to publish more light-hearted lifestyle articles than I already did. What I truly desire is to write sprawling personal and cultural essays, ideally long-form pieces that are in-depth and well-researched. Reading more allowed me to discover more role models that I want to emulate; it allowed me to understand the type of writing I enjoyed, which was essentially what I wanted to replicate with my own work.
I’ve always relished the fact that this site allows me to write for myself and on my own terms. Since “writing for yourself” is rather amorphous, I keep circling back to this expression, trying to narrow down what I want to say. For me, it means writing with no agenda beyond attempting to understand myself and/or others better (not for SEO or to serve brands); writing in hopes of emotional resolution after reflection; writing to sharpen my language skills. And so, I hope that in 2022, the bulk of Wildchild’s articles serves the modest but worthwhile goal of writing for myself.
Feature collage by Sherryl Cheong