Taylor Swift is everywhere. Maybe you've noticed. Love her or hate her, the trendsetting, genre-bucking, one-woman music industry is impossible to ignore, sparking National Dialogue and upending whole economies with her every disarmingly genuine yet impressively self-aware move. Hot off the heels of a record-shattering week for her new album 1989, Swift was kind enough to send us a candid self-portrait (classic Taylor Swift Surprised Face™) and answer a few personal questions via email about the unheralded virtue of the Santa emoji, being held accountable on Tumblr, and an emotional encounter at New York's most solemn monument.
What’s the wallpaper on your phone right now? A picture of my dad holding my cat, Olivia, like how Simba is held up in The Lion King. She's giving total side-eye sass because clearly she found the pose to be cliché and beneath her level of sophistication.
What’s one word you’re guilty of using too often? I say "like" way too much, and I always start my interview answers with, "I think for me, um..." I think I started doing it as a way to buy a few seconds of time before starting my answer and now it's really hard to break the habit. My friends on Tumblr have made GIF collages out of it. They don't let me get away with ANYTHING and I wouldn't have it any other way.
What’s the last thing you searched for on Google? Pictures of two eagles flying together/being friends. Don't ask.
What’s in your most frequently used emoji tab? The thumbs-up, the wide-eyed surprised-face emoji (go figure), and I think it's pretty important to send a random Santa emoji to people without any explanation at all. Because he's always watching.
What’s the first CD you ever bought? LeAnn Rimes' Blue and then Christina Aguilera's first album was the second. Even back then I struggled with choosing a favorite genre.
What three things are essential for any girls' night out? 1) Gum/mints because you're going to be talking to people/laughing/whispering, so let's make that experience a good one for everyone involved. 2) A charged phone because we need Yelp and because "I'm sorry I didn't meet up with you, my phone died!" is just a made-up excuse we use and not a real thing we let happen. 3) Red lipstick because we're going to be loud so our lip color should be too. And if you don't need a lipstick touch-up at some point, you're not really living.
Which NYC tourist attraction is actually worth the hype? Visiting the World Trade Center Memorial is one of the most life-changing events you can experience. It's something you should be emotionally prepared for, because it's so real and honest, just like New York itself. I'll never forget the moment when I was in the "In Memoriam" room, looking at all of the photos of those who lost their lives that day. The man who had been giving me my tour looked at me and said, "Would you like to see my brother's picture?"
What's one thing you know at 24 that you didn't know at 22? I didn't realize that being in love with your life can be just as wonderful as being in love with another person. Every relationship takes work and effort, and when I put that work and effort into my friends, family, and fans ... my life changed completely. I started making choices based on what I wanted, and didn't feel like I needed to justify them. If I wanted to cut my hair, I did it. If I wanted to move to New York, I did it. If I wanted to take a spontaneous road trip, I did it. At 24 I decided that my life is enough for me, and I stopped looking for some other piece to complete it. I also learned how to needlepoint ironic cross-stitches of rap lyrics and gave them to my friends as presents. I'll let you decide which is the more important revelation.