22 Things You Learn Hanging Out With Taylor Swift

From why she doesn't take sexy selfies to why she dances at awards shows, here's what didn't fit into her third Rolling Stone cover story

Taylor Swift performs during the 2014 MTV Video Music Awards on August 24th, 2014 in Inglewood, CA. Credit: Kevin Winter/MTV1415/Getty Images

We followed Taylor Swift for days, getting all the details on her pop coming-out party, 1989 — and learned a little about living under the constant eye of the paparazzi to boot. Here's 22 facts from the co-author of "22" that couldn't fit into this issue's cover story, from why Lena Dunham thinks she's a little bit like a 90-year-old to why it's impossible to keep a steady romantic relationship.

She has money in her blood.
Swift's mom, Andrea, was working as a mutual-fund wholesaler in Philadelphia when she met Swift's dad, Scott, who was a client. "They met in a meeting, and he asked her out," Swift says. "He had this farm 40 minutes outside of Philly, and he was throwing this big hoedown, and she came, and that's where they fell in love." As a girl, Swift wanted to be a stockbroker like her dad; she and her brother also took sailing and horseback riding lessons — "just in case we were put in a time machine and had to live in the 1800s."

She used to get drunk and cry about Joni Mitchell.
"When I first started drinking — when I was like 21 — I used to cry about Joni Mitchell all the time after a few glasses of wine," Swift says. "All my friends would know, once I started crying about Joni Mitchell, it was time for me to go to bed."

She actually does curse from time to time.
Although Swift has cultivated a pretty G-rated image, in private she's just like anyone else. At one point she's playing some rough demos of a few new songs on her iPhone when she pulls up one co-written with Ryan Tedder. Swift is playing the piano and hits a wrong note when she blurts out, "Fuck!" Blushing, the real-life Swift immediately attempts to cover the speaker on her phone.

She co-wrote Lena Dunham's future wedding song.
As a bonus track on her new album, 1989, Swift co-wrote a song with Jack Antonoff of fun., who happens to be her pal Lena Dunham's boyfriend. Antonoff describes it as having "a very 'Secret Garden' Springsteen vibe." According to Dunham: "Jack and I have a lot of existential and political issues with marriage. But if we ever do get married, there's no fucking way Taylor is not playing that song."

She lives in the house Frodo Baggins built.
Earlier this year, Swift moved to Manhattan, where she bought a pair of adjoining Tribeca apartments for a reported $20 million. The building dates back to 1882, when it was built as a warehouse for a sausage dealer — she likes the way it feels like a farmhouse in the city, with lots of wood beams and exposed brick. The apartment was previously owned by Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson, but Swift says she didn't have to change very much. ("They have really great taste in paint colors.") She did, however, find a new use for one walk-in closet: "Now it's my greeting-card writing room!"

She's surprisingly proud of being able to do splits.
Hanging on the wall in Swift's new apartment — near dozens of Polaroids of Swift's family and friends — is a photo of her doing splits. "I was the kid in elementary school who could never do them," she explains. "So it was a big goal of mine." In order to pull it off, she spent four months stretching every single day. "It was really hard and painful," she says. "No one could understand why it was so important to me." But in the end, it was all worth it. As she says: "Take that, elementary school insecurities."

She took her grandma's style.
Also hanging in Swift's apartment is a photo of her maternal grandmother, Marjorie Finlay, an opera singer in the Fifties who was a dead ringer for Swift. "I've taken after her in ways I really didn't see coming," Swift says. "We have the same nose. We both like to dress up. And she loved to entertain: At her parties, she would get up and sing for her friends." Her grandma also took Swift to see her first musical, a children's production of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, when she was 10. "I started doing kids' musicals, because I loved seeing these kids up there singing and acting," she recalls. "It affected me more than I realized."

Don't expect to see her at the club anytime soon.
Swift's idea of a big Saturday night is watching Titanic at home with her cats. "We're both a little bit like 90-year-olds," says Lena Dunham. "If we're feeling really crazy, I can get her to go to a furniture store."

Despite the rumors, Swift says she and Selena Gomez never had beef.
Last August, the gossip press reported that Swift and her pal Gomez weren't on speaking terms because of the latter's involvement with Justin Bieber. Not true, says Swift. "People think they have my relationships all mapped out. There were all these blogs, like, 'Are they feuding? Are they fighting?' Meanwhile Selena and I would be on the phone that night, laughing about it. We let them have that one."

She's not a fan of sexy selfies — or of flaunting it in general.
"I don't Instagram pictures of myself for people to be like 'Wow, that looks really sexy,'" she says. "I take pictures of cute kittens, or when the ocean looks nice, or of a funny sign I saw in an airport." This philosophy extends to sexiness IRL as well: "I like a more classic look," she says. "I always go back to Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly. Red lipstick and a winged eyeliner — I think that looks nice."

She has a simple trick for surviving the paparazzi.
When it comes to the paps, Swift has two simple rules. "You just make sure your skirt is down, and you make sure you don't give them a terrible eating shot," she says. The second one is hard for her: "I'm incapable of telling when food is on my face. It's like I don't have nerves in my skin. So if I get, like, a heinous piece of chocolate on my face, please let me know. I won't be offended."

If you ever spot her in public, go ahead ask for a picture.
"I'm totally cool with human interaction," says Swift. "I'm not scared of strangers. I don't walk around with bags over my head." All she asks is that you come up and ask, instead of trying for a sneak pic. "Everyone always says the same thing when they get called out: 'I was not!'" she laughs. "But it's like, yeah, you definitely were! As a human being who's been dealing with this for eight years, I know when someone is taking a picture of me."

She's a very thoughtful gift-giver.
"The amount of baked goods and needlepoints I've gotten from Taylor cannot be counted," reports Jack Antonoff. She's baked him multiple batches of cookies (including pumpkin and oatmeal raisin), and she's made Dunham a button collage and a cross-stitch of a cat. She was also the first person to give the couple a housewarming present when they moved into their new apartment. It was a taxidermied moth.

But she's never ordered anything from Amazon.
"I've never ordered anything from Amazon. But my brother does all the time."

She's grown a little disillusioned with love.
There's a song on the new album in which Swift takes a fatalist view of romance. "I think the way I used to approach relationships was very idealistic," she says. "I used to go into them thinking, 'Maybe this is the one — we'll get married and have a family, this could be forever.' Whereas now I go in thinking, 'How long do we have on the clock — before something comes along and puts a wrench in it, or your publicist calls and says this isn't a good idea?'"

And she says it's almost impossible for her to maintain a relationship.
When it comes to dating when you're a celebrity, Swift says, "you do feel a little bit like you got run over by a truck. You'll be riding in the car with someone and all of a sudden it comes on the radio that he bought you a diamond ring and he's going to propose. And you look at him and go, '...that's not true, right?' And he says, 'No that's not true!' Can you blame me for wanting less of that?"

When it comes to breaking up, Swift is a rip-off-the-Band-Aid type.
"Once you've established that someone doesn't belong in your life, I don't understand what more there is to talk about," she says. "I walk away from things when they're bad. I don't stick around to watch them burn to the ground." She says when she decides a relationship has "become toxic," "I'll just check out. Stop communication. I don't want to scream and yell at someone and give them the opportunity to say I'm crazy, or that I went psycho," she says. "No one will ever be able to say I went psycho on them."

Although she's had plenty to say about her exes, she's not sure what they'd say about her.
"If you turn on a tape recorder, they'd say nice things," she says. "But you never know what they'd say in a regular conversation."

She's never been in love.
"Looking back? Not real love. Not the kind that lasts. I think that's still ahead of me — which is really exciting."

She gets very excited about animals.
During one afternoon spent walking in Central Park, Swift freaks out about animals at least four times. First comes an encounter with some snapping turtles, whom she wants to feed but can't. ("I'll get in trouble with PETA.") Then there's a bumblebee that tries to land on her head. ("Have you ever gotten stung by a bee? I can't remember if you're supposed to stay still or keep moving.") A little while later, she spots some ducks in a pond. ("Ducks!" she says. "Are those babies, or are they teenagers?") And finally, there's the appearance of a quintessentially New York rodent. "A mouse!" she squeals happily, before being informed that it's actually a rat. Swift laughs: "Do you feel like you're hanging out with a six-year-old a little bit?" 

Speaking of age: She knows she sometimes comes off like a 24-year-old tween.
"I think there's an interesting lag-time on emotional growth for me," Swift says. "Because I write my records a couple of years before I put them out, I've always seemed two or three years younger than I actually was." That said, having gotten famous singing about fairy tales and crushes, she wary of growing up too fast, because "there's always gonna be an eight-year-old in the front row. Always."

Besides — she likes feeling like a little kid sometimes
"I think you have to do things that make you geek out like you're a kid again, or else you just become one of these 45-year-old 24-year-olds," Swift says. "That's why I dance like I'm having fun at awards shows, even though no one else is. Because being cool usually means being bored by everything. And I'm not bored by any of this."