Tag Archives: 2020

In the Midst of Chaos

By – Tray Taylor
IG: @allusiontoreality

In the most chaotic of times you would think we as humans would take a minute to grow in self awareness of the happenings in the world that surrounds us. 

As the calendar keeps on creeping by I realize that it has almost been a year since the last time I functioned in the world without a mask, around my friends, and in a restaurant. 

Now that it’s been snowing for the past three days in DC, it’s really *snowballed* me in the face with how desperate we’ve been all trying to reach for normal…when there is no such thing as normal

Suddenly we are pressing on the gas pedal harder than ever before (and believe me, before we were still pressing it way too hard). Snow days used to be enjoyable and relaxing days at home – things we look forward to. Now it is much like how we’ve been living through this entire pandemic .. doing too much instead of taking a moment to just….be. 

In a world full of chaos (and a whole lot lacking in self-awareness of the going-ons around us…) I wish for you that you give yourself space to re-center. 

When the world is on overdrive to destination insanity – do yourself a favor and wait for the next bus. 

Finding the things that center you can be so vital to thriving in this life. Here are some examples of my own:

+Coffee (iced) – Iced black coffee soothes my soul, and yes it must be iced …even when it is snowing outside. *side note: there are times when my anxiety is far too high for the beverage I adore the most, so I have to switch to matcha tea*

+Naps – I hated naps as a kid. In daycare I would just lay there in the dark waiting for one of my parents to come pick me up. Now? I love them. I learned the hard way though that is is best to take short power naps and avoid napping for too long – the best reset button for the afternoon (or anytime) 

+Fresh air – It hasn’t always been easy to get myself to go outside, I won’t lie about that. When I do though? Sometimes I still regret it …but sometimes I also love it and take enjoyment in just being outside and smelling the fresh air.

+My favorite food – The one thing that can turn my day around is knowing I will be having pizza for dinner – no joke. Living in DC for four years though…I make my pizza at home mostly because well..I’m from NJ and I didn’t realize how good I had it until I no longer lived in the areas of NY, NJ, and Philly.

+Listening to music on vinyl – This is an experience of finding a comfortable center for me – going through my collection and trying to find the right record to play. Mostly I just lay and listen for a little bit – or I clean my apartment while it plays. 

+Cooking – This is a new one for me… sort of. I used to bake and I enjoyed doing that more than anything – especially baking for others. Now I cook significantly more than I ever have, and I realize how creating recipes and trying to cook different things is enjoyable for me (guess that’s another thing I got from my Chef of a Dad) 

+Writing Poetry – The creative in me needs to put words on paper when I am feeling almost any kind of emotion. Writing poetry is my way of dancing out my emotions – but on paper.

+Watching an old favorite TV show – Golden Girls anyone? Maybe some Living Single? Old sitcoms bring me so much joy and they are a great way, especially now, to just let ourselves laugh and not be consumed with so many thoughts. 

+Listening to voicemails I saved from my Mom Mom – My Mom-Mom was my rock. And I am extremely grateful that I had saved some of her voicemails before she passed a few years back. This year especially was one where I found myself going back and listening to them – mostly because I wanted so badly to just call her up, but couldn’t. 

There are many things out there other than those that I listed that have gotten me through this year. Some in a greater deal than others – but that’s the point…no matter how big or small… there are things we can turn to to center ourselves. 

…and just one final thought, as Margaret Atwood wrote in Handmaid’s Tale:
Nolite Te Bastardes Carborundorum = “Don’t let the bastards grind you down”

Keep on Dream Chasing

by Tray Taylor
IG: @allusiontoreality

What does it mean to chase your dreams? Does it mean you don’t have a plan B? or does it mean you make a promise to yourself to just never stop pursuing what you dream of – no matter what age you are.

That is something I have been thinking a lot about lately. Mostly because I have been second guessing my own path.

Whether it was the right move to pursue a master’s degree in library science when my whole life all I wanted to be was a writer. Really questioning whether that choice was me going down my plan B path, instead of focusing solely on my plan A.

It has felt like a defeatist mindset to wonder these things, but it has also lit a fire under me in terms of motivation to get back to working on plan A.

Let me note that – sure, I love that I have a master’s degree in library science and I love being a librarian.

That isn’t what my doubt is about – and for those that find themselves wondering similar things, I know you get where I am coming from.

I’ve set out to make those changes this year by submitting more of my written work than ever before. Still not published, but it’s the journey – not the destination (or so I keep telling myself).

Last night I did the ultimate “check off the dream chasing bucket list”. I attended a writing drop-in (via Google Meet) at The Second City Chicago. If you’re familiar with Saturday Night Live or improv you will know how spectacular Second City is.

My dream, for a very long time, was to attend writing classes at The Second City Chicago – where many SNL greats got their start (if you know me personally, you know my admiration for Tina Fey).

Plans don’t always go the way we dream them up.

However, for two hours last night – I was living that dream. That little inner flame that has felt dim lately, ignited completely last night.

I got a taste of what it would be like to pursue what I love in practice, and maybe it was the enthusiasm of the instructor (shout out to Andrew McCammon). But overall, I think it was the energy of experiencing what I had always dreamed of doing.

What is something you always dreamed you would be doing in the lifetime? Did you ever pursue it?

This year may not be the year to do it, there’s a lot going on in the world (everything is seemingly on fire around us 95 percent of the time).

But if not now, when? No seriously. Put it on the calendar and hold yourself accountable for that future date.

I’ve always been a dreamer. I just stopped dream chasing for a bit, but I’m back and I’m ready to fail until I find success…what about you?

The Sounds of Joy

By Tray Taylor
IG: @allusiontoreality

When I first started this blog, it was mostly so I could get into the habit of daily writing again. Something I knew would bring me happiness, and maybe a few people would like to read what I had to say.

Lately, I have been trying to figure out what it is I want to keep sharing on this blog or if I should have a particular focus. I concluded that …I don’t think I have a conclusion on that.

I am a lover of music, pop culture, books, and many things that most folks don’t particularly know about me. So far, that is what I have been sharing on this blog – sharing pieces of myself & the things I love. And I think that is how I will continue – for now.

On another note…don’t you love weekends that feel like resets? That is what I had this weekend, and it was beautiful.

For the first time since the beginning of March I looked forward to a Zoom call. I was able to connect with a good friend, catch up, and talk about our experiences with writing. Incredibly refreshing and fired me up with motivation.

The other highlight from this weekend was decorating for my favorite holiday. Yes I am a person that decorates way too early, and no I have no shame in that.

My new fiber optic tree that is giving me all the vibes of joy that I knew I needed this year.

But I do know it is way too early to start writing about the meaning of Christmas, so I will transition into a few song suggestions that are guaranteed to bring you a sense of joy and wonder…not holiday related.  

1. I am America – Shea Diamond


Okay…have you watched We’re Here on HBO or are you light years beyond everything that is fabulously Queer in the world? This is the theme song to the show, and let me just say… I sincerely think there should be a petition for this to be the new Queer anthem of the US. Anyway, listen to the song and go watch the TV show on HBO (no excuse if you don’t have HBO, free trials exist ya’ll…)

2. I Love Yous – Hailee Steinfeld  


Yes, you are right this song sounds familiar because it is a sample off of Annie Lennox’s “No More I Love You’s”. Maybe this song is for you, maybe it isn’t … I will say for me – I had this song on repeat for months when it first dropped a few months back. It’s catchy and allows you to be overly dramatic as if you’re living in a break-up scene in a movie.

3. To R. – Father John Misty


My music taste is all over the spectrum, I know. Father John Misty reminds me a bit of Nick Drake (I said a bit). I am a fan of his music, and I discovered his music from another one of my favorites who listens to him – Geographer. If you’re looking for music to relax to, I fully recommend this song.

4. So Emotional – Whitney Houston


Sometimes I just need to dance it out, and I usually turn Whitney on when I need to do that. It is amazing how healing breaking out into randomly dancing can be. Between this song, and “I Want to Dance With Somebody” …I know what artist I can depend on to dance me out of any funk.

5. Sugar Baby – Megan Thee Stallion

I don’t think I could call myself a fan of music if I didn’t recognize a song off of Megan Thee Stallion’s debut album (that just dropped on Friday). This is one of my favorite songs off the album, simply because of the beat and the feel good vibe to it. The entire album deserves a listen because, damn that woman is dripping with talent.

Remember, even in our darkest of days – there is still music to shimmer some light into the cracks.

Pretzels & Poetry

by Tray Taylor
IG: @allusiontoreality

Let me start off by saying, I know I can’t be the only one who has felt topsy-turvy over the past few weeks.

This year I have been allowing myself to feel those kinds of feelings, but I am regretful that my weekly blog posting has suffered because of it.

I’m keeping it short, simple, and savory today.

A friend of mine that I used to coach with has been baking a lot of scrumptious things and recently she went on a soft pretzel baking spree. I love a good soft pretzel – anytime, anywhere. So seeing her post these delicious homemade ones made me curious to attempt to bake them myself.

I love to bake, but mostly cookies and cakes. So, I had never purchased yeast before and I didn’t know where I was supposed to find it in the grocery store (full disclosure I truly thought you had to go to some sort of organic or hipster grocery store to find it – go ahead laugh, I know.)

Thankfully my friend did not judge my ignorance and told me I could find packets of yeast in the baking aisle of a grocery store (this was my complete duh moment, but still forever grateful for her help in upping my adulting points.)

Shout out to the pretzel bites in the back because I dropped half the dough for what was supposed to be a sixth pretzel…

They turned out decent for my first attempt … except mine were thicker than expected. If you’re interested these are the ingredients I used (some modifications due to recommendation):

1 1/2 cups warm water
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 packet active dry yeast
4 cups of flour
3 tablespoons of oil, divided
1/3 cup of baking soda
2 eggs, beaten
Sea Salt to top them off
(because I couldn’t find coarse salt)

The rest of the steps can be found on Tasty through this link.

And I would like to end this post today with a poem that pops back into my mind every year around the holiday season. A good friend of mine shared it with me and I am forever grateful she did – so this is my gift to my readers, to pass it on to you all in hopes that you too appreciate it.

“I Invite My Parents to a Dinner Party” by Chen Chen
found on Poets.org

In the invitation, I tell them for the seventeenth time
(the fourth in writing), that I am gay.

In the invitation, I include a picture of my boyfriend
& write, You’ve met him two times. But this time,

you will ask him things other than can you pass the
whatever. You will ask him

about him. You will enjoy dinner. You will be
enjoyable. Please RSVP.

They RSVP. They come.
They sit at the table & ask my boyfriend

the first of the conversation starters I slip them
upon arrival: How is work going?

I’m like the kid in Home Alone, orchestrating
every movement of a proper family, as if a pair

of scary yet deeply incompetent burglars
is watching from the outside.

My boyfriend responds in his chipper way.
I pass my father a bowl of fish ball soup—So comforting,

isn’t it? My mother smiles her best
Sitting with Her Son’s Boyfriend

Who Is a Boy Smile. I smile my Hurray for Doing
a Little Better Smile.

Everyone eats soup.
Then, my mother turns

to me, whispers in Mandarin, Is he coming with you
for Thanksgiving? My good friend is & she wouldn’t like

this. I’m like the kid in Home Alone, pulling
on the string that makes my cardboard mother

more motherly, except she is
not cardboard, she is

already, exceedingly my mother. Waiting
for my answer.

While my father opens up
a Boston Globe, when the invitation

clearly stated: No security
blankets. I’m like the kid

in Home Alone, except the home
is my apartment, & I’m much older, & not alone,

& not the one who needs
to learn, has to—Remind me

what’s in that recipe again, my boyfriend says
to my mother, as though they have always, easily

talked. As though no one has told him
many times, what a nonlinear slapstick meets

slasher flick meets psychological
pit he is now co-starring in.

Remind me, he says
to our family.

Let it Rain into Self-Motivation

by Tray Taylor
IG: @allusiontoreality

Whenever it rains, especially for consecutive days – I always wish I was living in Seattle. I sometimes ponder to myself, if I have to deal with rainy days – why can’t it be in my favorite city?

I have had a thing for Seattle since my pre-teen years, and I don’t really know where the origin of my love for the city came from (I’ve only visited once, and this was way after I self declared it as my favorite city).

I do know my love for the city increased once Grey’s Anatomy premiered when I was in middle school (Yes my Sundays and Thursdays were once dedicated to that show & nothing else. No I don’t still watch, I stopped after Sandra Oh left the show). 

*The above photos are from the ONE and ONLY trip I have ever taken to Seattle. (yes, it was a spontaneous trip that I booked last minute, solo for my 25th birthday.)*

The truth is, I have been in a “anywhere but here” mindset lately – as I assume many of us may be. It has made it easier to lose sight of what I can be doing to take care of myself and my own well being.

So this week, with intention, I made a list of goals (I love lists, I am guilty of that). 

At the end of my list, I wrote a reminder to myself: If you stay focused, and get it done – you will find success. Easier said/written than done? Sure.

However, “success” is how YOU define it – and for me success is accomplishing what I want to get done to build towards my future self. As if I am investing in my future self – that to me is success.

Do lists work for you? Have you ever tried making a list- whether it is 2,3,5, or 10 things?

Need an example of a few things? (I’ll share a few that were on mine – I only wrote about 8 things) Don’t be afraid to start small, sometimes creating larger lists sets us up for disappointment, instead of “success”. 

A few off of my list: 

-Cook a comforting meal
-Work on manuscript for book
-Create more art/paintings 
-Schedule daily time to exercise (like, two days)
-Submit more writings for publication 

Crossed off the cooking a comforting meal off of my list last night. I love making chili this time of year, and it always has to spicy. As most things need to be that I eat.

Try it, make a list, and see if it works. Maybe it won’t, but at least you can say you tried. 

And to end this rainy day post.. I’ll leave you with a song that I’ve had on repeat for the majority of this week…

Time to Reset

by Tray Taylor
IG: @allusiontoreality

I’ve taken a clear pause on posting any writings. My creativity came to a screeching halt over the past few weeks, hard. 

For some days I was in a dark place, and I am grateful for those around me that helped to pull me out. I haven’t been in a space like that in a few years – which to me, was a wake up call. 

I’m planning on being intentional this week and in the coming weeks in setting my journey for the future – what are YOU doing intentionally for yourself?

We’ve also had a bit of a reset in the United States recently, gratefully. Although the hard truth is the majority of white people still voted for a man that stands for hate in all forms. Which means, I and other white people, still have a lot to do in terms of listening, and taking action. 

My partner and I had this song on repeat yesterday (I’m So Excited by The Pointer Sisters) – it brought us joy, and I hope it brings you joy as well.

Turn Up The Volume

By Tray Taylor
IG: @allusiontoreality

I tried my best to keep to writing two to three times a week, but life has a funny way of ruining that routine. My goal is to continue on with posting as many times as originally planned, and not allow certain things to get in the way of what makes me happy. Which is writing.

The way things have been going recently, I thought it was best to share another music post. Lately, music and true crime podcasts have been my short head-phone getaway from reality.

So, here a few songs I’d like to share with ya’ll

1. I Remember Her – Ingrid Michaelson

The first time I listened to this song was after my Mom-Mom passed in 2016. She was my rock. I drove down from Philly to visit her and slept overnight in the hospital two nights in a row because I didn’t want her to be alone. When times are tough, I long to be able to give her a call. Since I can’t, I turn to music that reminds me of her to give me a sense of comfort. Songs that comfort us, and remind us of loved ones that are no longer here are so important.

2. Cruel to be Kind – Letters to Cleo

Oh my love for 10 Things I Hate About You – I love the movie and I love the soundtrack. Whenever I hear this song I find it nearly impossible to be in a bad mood. The lines from this movie are timeless. Tell me, can you ever just be…whelmed?

3. Turn Your Lights Down Low – Ms. Lauryn Hill feat. Bob Marley

This song is exquisite AND beautiful. Their two voices balance each other so well even if it is digitally done. If this song was a scene in nature it would be a field of colorful wild flowers set against a vibrant lilac tangerine sky. I needed to listen to this song a few times on repeat to mellow myself out over the past month.

4. Glenn Miller Medley – Judy Garland and Martha Raye

Most people don’t know, but I am a huge Glenn Miller fan. I also have a bit of a soft spot for the classic Gay Icon, Judy Garland. Combining the two just brings me flutters of Gay bliss. If you didn’t know this song existed, and you’re a fan of either – I highly recommend it.

5. Sunshine – Johnathan Edwards

The first time I heard this song I was living in Philly and it was right after I pulled myself out of deep dark rock bottom. I would listen to it frequently just to pep myself up and remind myself there is a bright future ahead. If this doesn’t do that for you, did this remind you of a song that does? Go seek that song out and listen – now.

6. My Chemical Romance

Full disclosure, I thought I was too cool to listen to or like My Chemical Romance when they first came out (I know, lame). However, fun fact – my Dad was and still is a huge MCR fan. It is because of him that I know their albums from start to finish after the many times of riding around with him and their music would be ALWAYS be on in his car. For some reason, I have been playing their songs on full volume lately and it has been centering me more than anything else has been able to. The truth is, I’m not okay (pun may or may not be intended).

7. Effect and Cause – The White Stripes

I hated the White Stripes until a college boyfriend (yes, this was before I came out…. and just a note that relationship taught me a lot about myself. He is a great guy and I will forever be grateful for the bond we did have.) broke down for me the raw talent of both Jack and Meg. I will say it took weeks of convincing though. This is the one song that still sticks with me because of the line, “you can’t take the effect and make it the cause, I didn’t rob a bank because you made up the law.”

8. Got ‘Til It’s Gone – Janet Jackson (Q-Tip, Joni Mitchell)

When I saw Janet perform this (honestly her whole set was flawless) in Vegas over a year ago, my mind was blown. She is a performer in all sense of the word. This song is a true bop and what we all need now is a good song to bop to.

9. It’s a Beautiful Life – Ace of Base

Back in my younger days, like three years old, “I Saw the Sign” was my absolute favorite song. There is video footage to prove this, somewhere. For me now, I love listening to Ace of Base for nostalgia sake but this song I am sharing particular because it takes me back to a time of innocence and bliss.

10. It’s Not Right But It’s Okay – Whitney Houston remix

Oh Philly Gayborhood days, how I miss you so much. I miss my chosen family there, I miss the environment, I miss all the gays roaming the streets, and I just miss the feeling of blindly belonging to a community. This song represents so many good memories, with some pretty spectacular folks that I miss dearly. So, yep, my next question is…. what song reminds you of great friends and times that you still cherish the memories of?

Please share your stories in the comments, I would love to hear what songs/memories may have popped up in your head after reading this post.

Is This Thing On?

“You Matter, I Promise”
By Tray Taylor
IG @allusiontoreality

This past month has been excruciatingly hard for a number of reasons. I’ve been getting by this year at a “meh” pace – but these past few weeks I have felt on the edge of crumbling.

And today, well, I almost felt as if I was drowning.

Side note: I’ve struggled with depression the majority of my life and as the years go on anxiety is finding its way into my life too. Not to mention the herniated discs/on-going back issues I’ve had since 23 (when I said I was an old soul, I wasn’t expecting my body to follow suit).

Anyway – it has been a bumpy journey and it has felt like the cycle just won’t stop. And I know I am not alone in any of this, which is why I felt compelled to write this post.

This afternoon I reached a breaking point and I knew I needed to do something.

So, I went outside to clear my head and get some fresh air. For a brief moment I stood beneath my favorite tree just across the street from my apartment that turns beaming bright orange this time of year.

My moment of re-centering

I have felt defeated, voiceless, uncertain, and heavy lately- but in that moment I felt at peace.

After that brief moment of joy – I continued on my walk, turned my headphones up, went back to overthinking just about everything, and strolled to the store to pick up some wine.

So, I lend this moment to you. To everyone who has felt a bit scattered, alone, or just not themselves lately.

Allow yourself a moment to feel and re-center. Whatever that may look like.

(And I’d like to share with ya’ll the song that always seems to soothe my soul in moments such as these … *Joni Mitchell – River*)