a tale of two Taylors
if you've been doing your homework--reading through the Q&As and issue one--you're probably wondering if we're trying to pull a fast one on you. two Taylor Yates'? you ask yourself. no, we're not fucking with you: there are, indeed, two of us. ladies and gents, we are gathered here today to read an email interview between Chicago-based Taylor Evelyn Yates, author of "How to Love Your Body," and LA-based Taylor Lauren Yates, editor-in-chief of SELFISH and photographer behind "just checking."
TLY: first of all, I want to start off by saying that your middle name is better than mine and I'm reminded of it a lot now that we're working on this project together.
TEY: It’s my grandmother’s name! HA! Funny story actually, my mother told my fourth grade teacher Mrs. Hagel to start calling me Evelyn instead of Taylor. Once she started doing it everyone else in my grade began to do it for a while, sometimes they’d be teasing me sometimes it was my actual new name. But yeah Taylor’s the one that stuck! Also, names are empty! You make you cool! But I mean, the name Taylor Yates does have a nice ring to it, so we’re both equals in that sense. Also, shout out to Mrs. Hagel, how are you? You were the chillest reading teacher.
TLY: okay, good point: I do make me cool. so, the #1 question people have been asking me is, "are there really two Taylor Yates'?" as if I was really trying to sneak myself in there twice. the second question has been, "how do you know each other?" and that's a fun story. a few years ago, my boyfriend at the time had a doppleganger living in Mexico who friend-requested a bunch of his friends. more than a few of them didn't realize what was happening and thought maybe he'd started a new Facebook. watching everyone catch on was pretty funny--until one night a female friend was victim to a drunken creepfest--but it left me very curious. it wasn't long before I found myself drinking a healthy portion of wine and perusing our most popular social network for the other Taylor Yates' in the world.
TEY: I didn't know about this facebook doppleganger!
TLY: real talk: there are a lot of Taylor Yates' in the south. they seem to be quite...different from what I expected.
TEY: THERE ARE SO MANY SOUTHERN WHITE BITCH TAYLOR YATES’.
TLY: there are a lot of them. I get weird cross-emails intended for one of them in Tennessee. anyway, I persisted--I knew there had to be a good one out there. finally, I found you--this cute little brown girl in Chicago, my old college city. we clicked pretty quickly.
TEY: Your curiosity has broadened my horizons on a large scale. It’s still so crazy to me that we’ve found each other. Two Taylor Yates’, both super into writing, living in one of the three most poppin' places in all of America. You in California, me in Chicago. It's truly a bizarre blessing but hey, I’ll take it.
TLY: oh yeah speaking of, when are you coming out here to visit?! you promised!
TEY: I swear to god once I get these frequent flyer points up from going back and forth from Philadelphia to Chicago, I’ll be on a plane to see you!
TLY: okay okay, fine. anyway, "How to Love Your Body" is getting a lot of positive feedback-and for great reason. I knew two sentences in that it had to be part of the issue. it felt, and continues to feel, so Important. what hits you right off the bat is its sense of reborn innocence--the kind of wisdom and forgiveness that only comes with experience, but the dedication to optimism that only the foolish indulge. it packs a lot of empowering lessons into a small three-page window. readers and contributors alike have been citing it as a highlight of the issue--and crediting me for it, and I wish I could take that glory, ha! what can you tell me about how you wrote this piece?
TEY: To hear that from you makes me so excited! I wish I could be in LA going to events and meeting all of the lovely ladies that took part in the first issue! I am also stoked to hear you speak so tenderly about the piece! Well, it started in a prose forms class. We were experimenting with the "How-to" form. It pulled out a lot of interesting things in my writing. It’s a letter addressed to a younger version of myself informing her about all the bullshit she’ll encounter when forming an opinion about what her body means to her and the many detrimental things that chipped away at her full potential. Luckily, I was able to look back and reanalyze and understand a lot of the things that did more harm than good to my confidence and gave them a strong talking to! It was definitely very hard to recreate and very healing to write.
TLY: I can imagine how both of those are true. it's funny to look back on the important events that have shaped us, to recall how dramatic and insurmountable those things felt in those moments, and then to realize upon reflection that we remember less about the actual events themselves and more about the feelings that came with them--and understanding how differently you feel here in the present. and I like the word you used here--recreating--because writing from the truth can feel like those dramatic reenactments from crime shows--you're like jesus, the way I'm remembering some of this is absurd. but, writing about them creates that landmark of distance between yourself and the event. a distance you can look at and say hey! look at this progress I've made!
TEY: I was very into your photo series and how relatable and comical it was. A lot of those things have been on my desk before, including the plan b! I’m proud of you for that set. How did this idea find you?
TLY: haha! well, the plan B is the focus, actually--along with the pregnancy tests. [ed. note: cue everyone picking up the issue like ??] I'm reminded of My Big Fat Greek Wedding where she talks about how her dad believes Windex is the cure for everything. I'm a highly anxious person and every once in a while--or every three years, as I discovered putting together this series--it skews a certain way and the only cure is to take a pregnancy test. it happened again last fall and, while nonchalantly strolling through Walgreens, I remembered how panicked I felt my first time making such a purchase. avoiding that specific aisle and shoving whatever I could into my basket: nail polish, magazines, soap, candy. finally grabbing that box and burying it in the middle. something REALLY INTERESTING catching my attention while being rung up. running out of the store as soon as it was over. I wanted to reflect on the progression of the mentality of growing up as a woman and being terrified of this thing that, it turns out, we deal with maybe a handful of times or more over the course of young adulthood, regardless of one's sexual history--I don't know that I know many women who have never taken one before. it's a milestone, a rite of passage, peeing on that tiny white stick. the desk serves as an indicator of what life was like at each of those intervals.
TEY: What a motive! I mean I agree completely. It’s all about using those common secrets that lie under the water at the bottom of society’s iceberg and bringing them to the surface for art! It’s interesting to think about all the things that art has done for this world, and how it can be healing to look the truth directly in the face. What other writing projects are you working on? Who are your biggest influences?
TLY: my biggest influences are the amazing creative people I am lucky to be surrounded by. you are one of them! you fearless bright-eyed creature you! those closest to me, those I get to interact with at book fairs and events, all of them propel me forward. as for writing projects, I have a little book of silly poems called COMMUTE that I'm putting together about the many strange things I encounter driving 200 miles a week to and from work. but I'm also designing two side projects from issue one--little books written by Kelsey Nolan ("his + hers") and Alys Velazquez ("saints & scumbags" and "psalms"), and then of course there's issue two of SELFISH to plan...and I'm trying to convince myself to write something for that. so, we'll see.
okay, same questions!
TEY: I’m working on this novel, if you will, (feels so weird and pretentious to actually say that aloud haha) but it’s all about revealing common secrets actually. It’s super oedipal. The main character ends up kissing his mother at a school dance haha. There are a bunch of things that make it not weird leading up to the omen, but really it’s about this kid going through his parents' divorce, coming of age, and sort of figuring out how to navigate life. It’s very funny! I’ll be sure to update you on the progress of that! My biggest influences are definitely Miranda July and Virginia Woolf. Miranda July has a way of mesmerizing you with her mastery of voice and point of view. She is a hilariously artful writer and director of a few films that have changed the way I view the world. My Aunt Lynne and I agree on one thing, Virginia Woolf was a sorceress. She knew how to articulate the passing of time and the intricacies of the human experience. Her writing is encompassing, poetic, and moving. READ TO THE LIGHTHOUSE!
TLY: ahh I want to read this novel! alright. any last questions?
TEY: Red or white wine?
TLY: ha! white. I know it's considerably less cool and sophisticated than red, but I can't help it, red makes me sick. I may be callow when it comes to wine but I make up for it with a healthy gin and whiskey habit. and you?
TEY: I was just recently introduced to gin and tonics, and have been giving all my money to Bombay! white wine gets me talkative head drunk Taylor, and red wine makes me feel a more body drunk glow. It just depends on how I think the night needs to go haha.
TLY: I think we need to get white wine drunk together soon, somehow.
follow Taylor Evelyn Yates on instagram: @taylor_y_moi. and make your friends buy copies of issue one so we can be finally meet in real life and get white wine drunk.