I have strong mental associations between songs and the people who first introduced me to them. One way to give me an easy trigger to remember you by is to show me a song I haven't heard before but am likely to want to hear again, then give me the means to hear it again. (Also, I enjoy the orchestration of the Leona Lewis version of Run, but Snow Patrol's video has more fire and less vocal ornamentation, both pluses in my book. Also, I haven't really listened to Depeche Mode since high school. Anyway. Dreams.)

I've slept a long time the last two nights, upwards of 8 hours (read: twice as much as usual). They both featured long and winding dreams with segments that I woke up during, going no, that's not how it goes. I tried to replay those parts differently, multiple times, and couldn't change them. (I can almost always slip back into my dreams if I go immediately back to sleep - and I can usually re-run them and re-write the endings if I want to. But not this time.)

Last night's segment: Film noir style, black and white, some kind of nonviolent underground rebellion against some sort of martial law (it's a dream; it's hazy on the details). I'm a second too late to volunteer for something that ends up with the death of the guy (a stranger) who took on the job. I can either possibly finish the job and probably get killed, or I can lie, slink away, leave the job undone, and save my ass. You'd think that I could re-run that dream and find some way to pull it off without getting killed, but I didn't even get that far. Time after time, I went back to sleep, re-ran that part of the dream, and chose to save my own ass. Not out of concern for someone who'd worry about me, not out of a grasp of the bigger picture in which I'd be more useful spent for some other battle - but because I did not want to die. I dreamt I was a coward. And then I thought, what was I supposed to do? Re-run the dream over again until I died in it instead, and then wake up? Yeah, that would be a great way to start the day.

The night before that: Different storyline. I'm dripping seawater (from an earlier part of the dream) and walking into an orchestra rehearsal in a gymnasium. There's the feeling that I'm coming back to this after a long time, a sort of "finally!" moment; I've missed this for a long time. The piano's empty (it's Hector, my former old and absolutely terrible upright - but it's my piano), rehearsal's starting, so I sit there and begin to play along, and I'm doing pretty well. A boy about my age comes up in the middle of the song and stands beside the upright as a 16-bar rest begins. I've never seen him before. I don't know how good a player he is. But I want him to have a chance, so I scoot out. "Go ahead." He slides in wordlessly and picks up, playing... not quite as comfortably as I had been*, but pretty close, and well enough.

*Apparently I play piano better in my dreams - I can play with an ensemble as well as I can normally play alone, where in reality I get substantially worse because I can't hear the other instruments, and if the conductor says something when I'm not looking (for instance, I'm sightreading my sheet music and they announce we're going back to measure N) I have no idea that he/she has even spoken, in contrast to normal speech sans background music, where I'll at least usually know I've missed something - orchestral music is fantastic at clogging up the frequencies of speech that I can hear. (Ensemble musicans with normal hearing, imagine donning headphones blasting heavy metal while you're trying to perform (or worse, learn) Saint Saëns. That's probably about how much I have to strain to hear most of the instruments and voices around me when I play.) And I really do miss playing with an orchestra, band, quartet, choir... Anyway. Back to the dream.

I walk over to the rack of cellos on the side and pull mine from its case. (Again, my instrument. Not a particularly great cello. But it is mine.) Tune it up, rub rosin into the bow, figure I'll sit in the cello section and play there; it's been years, but it'll come back to me, and I'll learn well enough to fit in somewhere else. But when I turn to walk out to the cello section, there's a girl - again, my age, stranger, I don't know how well she plays (is it that I think I play so badly that anyone else must be better?) - sitting in the seat I'd planned to take, no instrument. "Here, take this," I say, and hand her mine. She starts to play, pretty hesitantly. Making many mistakes. I'd probably do about as well. She'll learn, I think, and walk back to stand behind the pianist, where I sightread over his shoulder, my fingers twitching and tapping on my leg. I want to play. But there's no part for me here now. I've given away both of the seats that I could take.

The orchestra plays on, rehearsing the same piece again. I watch the pianist and the cellist, and they've gotten a little better since it's the second time around. "I wish I could learn to be that good," I say out loud. "I can't afford [the time or money it would take for lessons] to learn to be that good." (Despite the fact that it's, you know, the second time they played that piece, and I could have kept either instrument and done just as well. The orchestra is learning together; it makes no sense for me to think about going off, taking lessons until I can play those pieces perfectly, and then going back in and still having no seat - but hey, my actions aren't exactly rational in dreams.) A voice comes from behind me. "This is the only way you can afford to learn," it says, and I know it means I'll have to take an instrument back from one of them if I want to play at all.

So I turn around and listen to the choir, standing kind of awkwardly in the middle of the orchestra I want to play in, but can't bring myself to oust somebody else from. And I step back and I find that there's a camera in my hand (woo, dream discontinuity!) and I'm filming the proceedings - I guess it's helpful, even though I'd rather be in front of the lens, part of the group I'm now recording.

And that's where I woke up. It was the middle of the night. No, I tell myself. Go back. Get in there and play. I slip back into the dream, but I still can't bring myself to take their seat. I wake up again. No. Go back and find another instrument, another chair. I go back. There aren't any spare instruments that I know how to play, not even chairs. I wake up. No. It's your bloody dream. You can make more instruments and chairs in your mind if you want. Go back. Rewind. I go back. I can't. There are no more chairs or instruments. I rewind, replay it; I give up my seats once more, don't change a thing. I stand there listening to this orchestra of Other People until I wake up again, and this time it's hours later, morning.

There was another dream about a week ago that I wouldn't change at all, though. I dreamt that I was resting. I will try to have that dream again. And I'll try not to come back to my computer 'till Tuesday. I need my rest; I need this time away.