Thursday, June 21, 2007

The Mrs. G Interview, Part 2: I Was a Teenage Mind Parasite!

WILL: Okay, she's back by popular demand, folks! I mean our guest interviewee, the lovely and talented Leslie Godwin, author of From Burned Out To Fired Up: A Woman's Guide to Rekindling the Passion and Meaning In Life and Work and spouse of and life-partner to Bob.

LESLIE: I'm honored, a bit surprised that you'd have me back. Around here, the blog is usually considered the domain of the wise and powerful Bob doing something mysterious with his computer from behind a plush curtain in a part of the house where no one dares to set foot. [And, I might add, where all mortals show themselves wise to tremble! Silence!!! --GB]

WILL: Right. Well, I'm sure that's pretty much the picture Raccoons have in their minds... The wheels and levers, the giant smoking computer, the projected image of Bob's disembodied head menacingly floating above the flames.... Anyway, everybody, if you haven't done so, while I'm rummaging around for the dog-eared transcript, you might check out Leslie's website.... Okay, when last we left off.... ah yes -- I asked, apparently in jest, "Just how shrewish was Bob?" and you said --

LESLIE: "Will, I'm sure you realized I was referring to myself as the shrew."

WILL: Right, that's exactly what you said. So -- this begs the question... were you really a shrew?

LESLIE: I was a real pain in the @$$ for as long as I can remember.

WILL: Well, that's refreshingly blunt. An @$$ pain from childhood? I'm curious as to where the roots of shrewishness might lay.

LESLIE: I don't have a lot of fond memories of my childhood. I mentioned that I grew up in Forest Hills, then Dobbs Ferry, NY for most of my childhood. My default childhood memory is of wanting to be buried in a book anytime I didn't have to be at school. I was both introverted and shy (now I'm just introverted), but my parents are both hyper-extroverted. They assumed that it was unhealthy to be cooped up inside all day, not to mention the hassle of my being underfoot, so they basically locked me out all day til dinner time. I ran away from home a few times with a friend, and honest-to-God I don't think that my parents even knew. I would always come back before it got dark.

WILL: So you were --

LESLIE: I'm sure looking back on this that I was clinically depressed, probably both due to nature and nurture.

WILL: I was going to say it sounds like you were an exceptionally sensitive and imaginative child who instinctively went on the offensive as a defensive ploy...

LESLIE: Wow, thirteen years of psychotherapy and I could have just asked you. What a waste of money!

WILL: Not necessarily. I charge by the word, not the session... It adds up pretty fast...

LESLIE: (Laughing) Anyway, that's the back story. Later on I became the charming combination of being insecure, sometimes angry -- mostly with boys -- and controlling as well. At times I was bossy and took things out on my little sister, Katie, which I regret even though I understand how I got that way. We had a reconciliation before she died. But I wish I could have been a little more perfect and not taken out my stress on her at all.

WILL: One Cosmos readers wouldn't know this, but you and I have talked about it, Leslie -- we both lost sisters in the same year, within a month of one another. We can have our regrets -- that's to be expected in any decent human being -- but the reconciliation is the all-important thing.

LESLIE: Yes. You were very comforting to me when we later discussed our losses, even though we didn't know each other at the time they happened. Regarding the reconciliation, I was visiting my brother-in-law (Steve) and nephew (Aiden) a few months after Katie's death -- she left behind a 2 year old son -- and Steve asked me to go through some of her personal things and organize them, throw out those that she wouldn't want Aiden to happen upon later, etc. One of the things I found was a letter I had written to her when we reconciled a major problem we were having. I can't tell you how much that meant to me to read it and see that she had saved it.

WILL: Getting back to our topic -- should I assume that you were a loner in high school?

LESLIE: Oddly, I was the last to realize it, but it turns out that I was popular in high school. For some reason about 5 years ago I read my high school yearbook and saw the very kind comments from friends, acquaintances, teachers and coaches. I guess it was my Sally Field moment (You liked me! You really liked me!). It made me look beneath my screen [superficial] memories of the time, which of course were more a function of my insecurity [mind parasites! --GB] than an accurate perception of the situation. I realized that I'd actually had a lot of friends and that people could see my good points, where I had only been focused on my weaknesses and insecurities. And I'd just assumed the yearbook would be filled with inanities like, "Stay sweet," "Have a good summer," and "2 nice + 2 be = 4 gotten."

WILL: For what it's worth, sun-sign Virgos often have an unrealistic desire for perfection and when they can't meet their own expectations -- nobody could, of course -- they beat up on themselves mercilessly. Anyway, high school... you were a social creature...

LESLIE: Yes, and while this unexpected social whirl was more fun than being a loner and hating my life, I still felt out of step being so introverted and trying to avoid my problems by hanging out with my friends -- in other words, sort of compartmentalized, being one person on the outside but another on the inside.... By the way...

WILL: Yes?

LESLIE: One other compensation was that I was a total sports nut. It became a kind of comfort object.

WILL: Yeah?

LESLIE: I especially loved the New York Giants. My favorite players were Fran Tarkenton when he was first with the Vikings and then with the Giants, and Homer Jones. As fate would have it, I was born the day after a Giants game in the Polo Grounds. My mom -- who dated Frank Gifford before marrying my dad, incidentally -- must have trudged up and down about a mile of stairs on September 17, 1960, and I popped out the next day, a Giants fan.

WILL: If I'm understanding this correctly... your pregnant-with-you mom attended a Giants game on the day before the day you were born?

LESLIE: I think it exemplifies the pattern of how I fit into their lifestyle. I'm not totally opposed to that, by the way. We're having to push Future Leader a bit out of the center of the universe right now. He's been demoted to center of the solar system until we can negotiate something a little more reasonable. Anyway, our family had Giants' seasons tickets until fairly recently. I went to their games in Yankee Stadium, one year in Shea Stadium, and then Meadowlands when it first opened. I also loved pro basketball and remember many nights listening to Marv Albert call the games on radio when I couldn't sleep.

WILL: He shoots! He scores!

LESLIE: Over the years I've become an obsessive hockey fan. And Bob got me into baseball and the Dodgers.

WILL: Well, speaking of L.A. and Bob -- in our first interview session, you used the phrase, "The Taming of the Shrew," referring to the period after you had moved to L.A. and married Bob...

LESLIE: It's all true. Bob saved me from myself.

WILL: Yes, but no one gets saved unless they want to be and are willing to put forth the effort.

LESLIE: It's still fair to say Bob did a lot of heavy lifting the first 10 years of our relationship.

WILL: What was the situation?

LESLIE: I was insecure, and had a mild panic disorder that got worse when I felt abandoned. And I was very opinionated and controlling -- not a recipe for marital bliss.

WILL: Well, would you --

LESLIE: Oh my God, I almost forgot about this... it's been a while... but I used to freak out when Bob drank beer (laughing). Can you imagine?!!

WILL: Just barely.

LESLIE: You'll have to get his side of the story on how that wasn't a dealbreaker! [It was only a mercilessly brief period around 87-88 --BG] Probably because I didn't start out that way. It was only after I had made some progress in my psychotherapy that this unpleasant symptom came up. A different person might have gone out for the evening paper and just kept going if he didn't feel the call to... to change my life in magical ways! Overheated cliché yes, but that's what happened. [That's a little over the top -- imagine something more subtle, like the cover of a Harlequin Romance with Fabio playing me --GB]

WILL: As someone pointed out in a comment -- I think it was Dilys -- "Taming of the Shrew" also has an esoteric meaning -- the process of transformation of spirit, an alchemical transformation... so when you use the word "magical," Leslie, this is not simply a romantic description. It's quite literally magical, something that transcends cliché.

LESLIE: She's so right. What a wonderful point. Anyway, somehow Bob felt there was something worth saving in me.

WILL: Two questions: How did Bob go about helping to save that someone worth saving? And who would you say she is?

LESLIE: How did he do it? Good question. He is an unbelievably loyal and tolerant person. [Plus he continued drinking beer in secret --BG] So he did as much tolerating as he could until he had to take action. He reaches a point and then, no mas. I had a very annoying set of personality traits, but I truly did want to be a better person. I would put myself through anything to grow. Kicking and screaming, but I really wanted to be healthy.

WILL: Like I said, that's what makes for a spiritual warrior -- the desire to change and the willingness to put forth the effort. Still, as you admit, you were naturally resistant. How did Bob --

LESLIE: Bob's two chief weapons were Truth and a sense of humor... And amongst his weaponry were fear, surprise, and ruthless efficiency... you get the point.

WILL: And a comfy chair. Yes, I get the point. [Series 2, Episode 2: nobody expects the Coonish Inquisition! Don't forget the plastic dish-drying rack to keep her at bay during emergencies --GB]

LESLIE: Well, it wasn't exactly the Spanish Inquisition, but I suppose it felt like it at the time... He didn't allow me to wiggle out of logical arguments. He pointed out that I was a bad sport when I flipped over the Scrabble board when he used all of his letters for the 50 point bonus....

WILL: ... umm... well... yeah...

LESLIE: -- and however pissed off I got at him for challenging me and not just giving me a hug when I would cry, I realized that whatever he was doing was helping me to grow.

WILL: In other words, Bob is the anti-Oprah. [What, Harpo? --BG]

(to be con't)


dweller on the threshold said...

Thanks so much for a great interview Will! And the inserted comments from Dr. Bob made it laugh out loud funny. Hearing Leslie's journey gives me hope. I'm another Leslie, who also has a very patient husband, and have fought a long battle with mind parasites. Her story gives me hope for myself. Thanks again.
I've really appreciated being able to both read Bob's writings and all the comments here at OC. Its a wonderful community and has been a real spur to spiritual growth. Thanks to everyone.

jwm said...

Mrs. G:
Your story has me hooked. I wanna find out what happens next.
You are a gifted interviewer. Have you done this before or are you discovering a new talent?
wv; bdblsina some former soviet state?


walt said...

Great interview, Will! A refreshing contrast to yesterday's embittered minoritarianism (so-called, of course). Do continue!

Van said...

" [Series 2, Episode 2: nobody expects the Coonish Inquisition! --GB] "

Thanks, was about to try to hunt it up.

Back to the interview...

juliec said...

Great interview, Will and Mrs. G. (and Bob :)

It's cool that you're a hockey fan - we were very happy to see the Ducks win the cup this year (my husband is from Highland, and a long-time Ducks fan).

Thanks for sharing your story. It's nice to see the B'ob from someone else's point-of-view, and it's also inspiring to the rest of us parasite-ridden introverts. I look forward to the next installment.

wv: ubhrp

sehoy said...

Thank God for Coonish Inquisitions!

My husband has had to deal with a lot of my parasites, as well.

"Taming of the Shrew." Ditto here.

Van said...

"(to be con't) "

aaAhHH! (stamps feet, slips into shrew costume)

I want the whole thing! NOW!

(removes costume, puts in safe place)

Really enjoying these (I guessed the secret beer strategy).

Sal said...

More, please! Thanks, Will and Leslie- this is fascinating.

Speaking of mind parasites: obscure and weird stuff often comes into the library. Yesterday Mr. Sal brought home this brochure from

It seems that you can re-program your brain from negative pre-natal influences, that show up in later life as personal problems, like insecurity, irritability, uncertainty and so on.

It sounds rather Chopra-esque and 'nothing is your fault' new-agey quick-fix. Out with the bad and in with the good.

Is there any neurological basis to this or is it just quackery?

dilys said...

More! Soon! And more on the gentle adjustment of FL from universe to solar system.

Oh, yes, the ol' He should be sweet to me when I'm upset.
Reverses to
"I should be sweet to me when I'm upset."
"I should be sweet to him when he's upset."
"I should be sweet to him when I'm upset."

1. is a no-brainer, but helps to remind one's wailing self.
2. yeah, just how patient am I if it's so easy?
3. saved Chez Dilys.

Sal, I've tagged over the years a number of reports that a change of mind changes neurology, first endocrine chemicals, then structures. Shoulda' kept a file...

Robin Starfish said...

Wunnerful, wunnerful! And the best is that the interview ends with "(to be con't)". Can we make this the Neverending Interview, please?

Revise, Revise
i thought i was fine
until the eraser came
youth is a first draft

wv: mmsql (Mmm Mmm! Sequel?)

NoMo said...

Sal - Its probably not comparable with the dragon thing, but I'm reminded me of primal scream therapy in the 70s - particularly fun when you're a passenger in the car and its just time for some therapy. Oops, did I mention it could also be dangerous?

Will - More interview needed here.

wv: chlpbu (weird how wv and I think so much alike)

Sal said...

Hey, I'm just noticing that we've jumped from 'meeting GB' to 'married to GB'.
Where's the missing hunk of proposal and wedding?
Girly enquiring minds want to know.

Dilys! LOL! How much do we love her?
"Yeah, if it's so easy, why don't you do it?"

gumshoe said...

a mnemonic for Leslie worth remembering:

"the perfect is the enemy
of the good."

(got my own battles with it).

cosanostradamus said...

Burned...To...Fired arrived by UPS just yesterday and DW is already engrossed. Have a feeling I'm gonna have to soon start running to catch up!

Keep the story coming. I for one really enjoy the occasional side trips.

will said...

Thanks for the compliments on the interview, all.

You should know mrs G had a considerable hand in shaping the interview.

jwm - the last interview I did before these recent ones was in 7th grade when I interviewed Linda Becker for the class "newspaper" re her pet rabbits.

Susannah said...

Mrs. G., I can relate. I have learned so much simply by observing my husband. In fact, overcame a lot of false guilt/shame/self abuse stuff just by following his example.

Just last night, we were wondering what it'd be like to go back in time and observe ourselves as young'uns. My response: I'd be *mortified.* His: I'd probably find myself annoying. Also: Try to communicate "Microsoft...invest."

Somehow, we saw something in each other anyway. :)

I'm positive you've done your share of helping him over the years, too.

cosanostradamus said...

>>slight detour<<

Vaclav Klaus, the Czech President, has some breathtakingly reasoned remarks about the global warming debate here. He sounds downright raccoonish, even refers to himself as a classical liberal. What's the world coming to, where we must relearn the basics of free market economy from the leader of a previously communist country?

I don't mean to take the deserved attention off Mrs G but this was too good not to share.

>>merge back into traffic<<

Mrs. G said...

I'm so amazed and touched by the comments. Will is a genius, and GB did some final commenting, as you can see.

I'm just glad I could share my story and show a side of GB that most people wouldn't know. Although judging from his email and comments here, many have also had a similar experience of his magical transformations.

Now if I could just keep Tristan and Lucy from driving him crazy...

Mrs. G

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

This interview was impressive, remarkable, dazzling, brilliant, excellent, outstanding, amazing, phenomenal, breathtaking, thrilling, wonderful, magnificent (x7), superb, first-rate, superlative, matchless, mindblowing, out of this world, sensational, awesome, and really really cool!
(I find it strangely satisfying to make my fellow Raccoons work extra hard for just the right adjective to describe todays post-Skully).

Thanks Mrs. G and Mr. T!
I pity the po' fool who doesn't consider this interview the interview that "broke the mold" and raised a new golden standard of interviewy goodness!

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Um, Bob? Should we by Mrs. G's book through your site, or through her site?
Oh wait, should I ask you privately?
I wouldn't want to be puttin' a dent in your secret beer-drinkin' money.
I mean, Cousin Dupree's secret...
Know what? Just forget I said anything. :^)

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Ahem! That was "buy", not by.
Of course, that doesn't matter since I just asked you to "forget" I said anything but know?

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

I didn't use fabulous as an adjective to describe THE INTERVIEW, because let's be honest, it sounds gay.
From a lady it sounds okay, but that's simply my take on the word.

That is, in the event that anyone wonders why I didn't use the word "fabulous".

jwm said...

Ben: You know you're just too reserved. If you like something, just come out and say so.
Will: Two rabbits, huh? Did one of those critters later become the enraged attack bunny that threatened Jimmy Carter? Or was that another wabbit?

wv: ipqof, well wv has been piquing me off for a while.


anthropomorphic proto-hominid screed said...

On the subject of human species--there are actually two primary genomes, the latest traced to the Song people of souther Rhodesia, and the former and older one to the Dravidian Tamils and Australians of the first African diaspora.

These two groups can barely breed together now and are in the process of separating into completely different species. I propose to call them home sapiens (Song branch) and hominid x (Dravidian branch).

The earth has long supported multiple hominid species and that we are singular now is an anomaly that won't persist.

Aurobido is by no means wrong. Our genome is in constant flux and to call our present configuration stable is to flout the evidence for genetic drift.

River Cocytus said...

Yeah. Because you know, natural selection? It needs to act on a trait for that trait to change. The way it acts? Death. Right now, pally, the only thing that is being tweaked is aptitude for independence and disease resistance.

Everything else is just fantasy.

(Where do people get this Sh**?)

Btw, great interview, y'all. The sincerity rings clear as a bell.

Joan of Argghh! said...

Another gem, Will and Leslie!

I'm a bit perplexed that the Virgo traits Will listed seem to fit this Aries so well, however. Hmmm...

At any rate, I'm thinking I need to order Leslie's book pretty soon.

CrypticLife said...

Hmm, River, doesn't it actually operate on reproduction? Death is just one happenstance obstacle to reproduction, but there are others. Disease resistance after reproductive age, for instance, is decidedly not selected for.

I agree, though, that there might not be much particular selection going on right now, at least in homo sapiens. Reproduction has become rather easy for us.

It is a nice interview, btw.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Homida, homida, homida!

Joan of Argghh! said...

Possibly the most fascinating essay on physics and metaphysics I've read in quite a while.

cousin dupree said...

The Cultural Illiteracy of the Easy Atheists

River Cocytus said...

Crypticlife - good point. It is really the same thing - that which dies without reproducing... (or dies without producing offspring who do the same, actually.)

This existential question is always in consideration - the Shakers, for instance, did not reproduce themselves. They have as a result, effectively vanished.

So, for a philosophy to be truly true it must address both the vertical AND the horizontal - or as Paul put it, "A life more abundant."

Even the Katha Upinshad had something to say about that.

MizzE said...

Leslie, I really appreciate your willingness to openly share your personal process of growing into all you want to be. I did not fail to notice some similarities and some jealousy because I have never met a Bob for me. Why this is so, I do not yet know, but I have come to accept that has been God's will for me. My hunch is that you and T. and puppy are just what Bob needs for his own growth.

Robin Starfish said...

joan koan...

(one) the shadow no's
(two) who blows the shadow nose
(three) the shadow gnos

walt said...

Joan -
Thank you for the link. Brings new meaning to the concept that we need to "get out of our own way." And, no wonder the Devil seems so tricky! Etc. etc.

Ricky Raccoon said...

Great interview again, Will.

And Mrs. G, pleased to meet you.

Will said,
“…that's what makes for a spiritual warrior -- the desire to change and the willingness to put forth the effort. Still, as you admit, you were naturally resistant.”

This supports Bob mind parasites theory well, I think. The real Mrs. G was willing to acknowledge the mind parasites and then get rid of them. Not easy. But the real Mrs. G didn’t change at all – just in acknowledging where the problems really lived.
There was no change of personality or the real Mrs. G (I don’t think that can be done) …maybe it was more like a change of clothes…except a lot harder to do.

By the way, speaking of clothes and the wise and powerful Bob, I sort of picture him in his jammies and fuzzy bunny slippers…2 inches from his cup ‘o joe and FL’s race car bed.

River Cocytus said...

Zen and the Art of Hacking...

(When Robin mentioned Koans, I went fishing and found those...)

River Cocytus said...

PS - "And Minsky continued, telling him that the world is built a certain way"

... Ah, yes. And without this sort of internal understanding, computers could not and would not be where they are today.