About 99% of the time I listen to my music via the entirety of my accumulated catalog on random. Once in a while I get the urge to hear one album sequentially, and I’ll turn the random off, and this or perhaps some other unknown mystery move will, sometimes, leave me unintentionally listening to my playlist sequentially by title instead of randomly. I ordinarily don’t do this on purpose, though, because I have a few live albums of favorite bands and sometimes songs covered by different bands, which means I’ll wind up listening to the same song twice in a row. This is the problem, but often this is also the solution: I don’t really notice I’m not on random anymore until I hear the same song twice in a row, at which point I’ll immediately turn the little shuffle arrows back to blue, skip the repeated song, and all is right with the world.

But a random order of songs once in a while will also play these repeats sequentially. I’ve performed the exact maneuver I’m about to describe to you only about ten or twenty times ever, but today was the first time it struck me as excessively weird or perhaps idiosyncratic: Just now, Jack White’s cover of Walking with a Ghost came up immediately after the Tegan and Sara version. I noticed, unlocked the iPhone, clicked through to the music app, and saw that the blue arrows were glowing, that random was indeed in play. And that was it. I locked the phone again… without skipping the song.

This is the biggest – if not the only – reason I almost always employ the shuffle function in the first place. Because I don’t want to hear my repeated catalog entries one right after the other. But if the shuffle gods have decided to play me the same song twice in a row, I always, always go with it. With almost zero consideration on the subject, either. I mean there’s the token perfunctory reflection on what I’m doing, like am I really about to, yes I am, lock button.

I may just be avoiding writing fiction right now, in writing this, but I thought maybe this might explain a thing or two about the kind of fiction writer I am. I put faith in the story and the characters and I don’t often know the end of the story when I start it. In fact I prefer not to. I like to put my trust in the ideas that come into my brain, often randomly, often I will pick them out of the ether and dutifully put them down on the page in the order they arrived without dependence on an understandable or rational or relevant narrative thread. I want badly to believe my imagination, my brain, is performing calculations that are beyond my conscious thought, and that they will all make sense eventually if I just go with it.

This of course is about as hit-or-miss as any other method, but it’s just the one I prefer. I want faith. I want for it and I find it in the stupidest places, but no better or worse than yours, I’d wager.

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