Patron with Honors
I got to Los Angeles in March of 1978. Some college friends had moved out there and my new sis in law—let’s call her Doris—had invited me to stay with her and my brother until I got settled. Thrilled to be escaping my mother, I arrived on a bright and sunny afternoon just in time to pick up the kids at Apple School. Doris and my brother were working, so I would take the kids home and they’d arrive later. They lived in Hollywood near the Manor, which I think was Celebrity Center then, but it might have been later. Los Angeles felt very humid and mediterranean to me those first few months. It was so green! I felt I could live here.
Apple School was a school for children of Scientologists--it was nestled down in a little glen below Los Feliz Boulevard and next to ABC studios, as I recall. It was really cute--I learned later the property had quite a history and the round, central building had been designed by John Lautner, a famous architect. The school was run by Bonnie Bishop, used Study Tech, and both my brother and his wife seemed crazy about it. The kids were under ten years old, then, so they seemed okay with whatever they were told to do. I liked that I got to be part of the years when they were happy and seemed to enjoy life. (Later, the two boys completely repudiated their education, really breaking Doris’s heart.)
From the time I arrived in L.A., Scientology was a part of my life in smaller or larger ways--part of my thoughts or conversations on at least a monthly basis because I was always in close contact with my brother’s family and they were on lines at L.A. Org and elsewhere.
It was understood from day one that if I was going to have relationships with my family who were in Scientology, I would never criticize it and would show respect toward whatever they were doing in it and with their children. I admit I was curious about this Important Thing their lives revolved around, but I was freaked out, too. I just wanted to live a "normal" life (good luck), but I certainly had, over the years, somehow bought the b.s. that scientologists were brighter, more interesting and more special than other people. Maybe my mother's relentless propaganda about my brother's brilliant greatness vs. L.Ron's satanic power had influenced me to take it all ultra-seriously, or perhaps I was just gullible. After all, nothing like a mystery to trap a thetan.
Meanwhile, I felt desperate to establish myself as being able to survive on my own, make a living, etc. As far as relating to my brother and his household, my feelings were always very, very mixed. I was afraid of my brother, actually, and literally avoided him. Doris, was a different story. She was like the older hippie women I knew who had an open and laid back attitude to life. (I know now that was totally MY fantasy.) I thought she was beautiful and fun--she talked very openly about her history (her first marriage, sexual adventures, Scientology, her hopes of getting some acting jobs) and seemed extraordinarily accepting of me, my emotions, my life problems. Doris didn't try to get me into Scientology; I believe now that my brother must have forbidden her to reg me.
I guess I have to explain here 'what kind of Scientologist' my brother was and is. I wish I could—was he an anomaly or are there more like him?
He is not one to let one into his mental inner sanctum, so I am just guessing when I say that I think in the late sixties he took one look at the situations of staff at the orgs and thought, no thank you. Perhaps that is to his credit. From then on he espoused a peculiar form of 'Scientology' that consisted of believing every word Hubbard wrote but refusing to buy services or do more than "hang around" the Celebrity Center or Apple School helping out sometimes in very limited ways--like, “I'll mow the lawn or set up chairs”, build stuff, etc.
He would quote LRH books and policies one second in a voice that dared you to disagree one iota, and then curse, castigate and condemn the orgs, registrars, etc. the next. To be snarky (why not?)I think he liked the superior feeling of having "the truth" about Life, the Universe and Everything, but I don't think he likes people much, actually. So, he was never burdened with the need to "save everyone" and "clear the planet." I think he was desperate to believe that he had found some tools to ensure his own survival and didn't want to question anything that would shake that belief.
If that sounds too snarky, let me add that I don't consider my own motives when I eventually approached Scientology to be that much different than his--I wanted to feel better, live more effectively and feel that I wasn't just a piece of dust. I felt sorry for the plight of the world, but more concerned with my own plight. I guess we craved the safety and the acceptance that comes from feeling, even remotely, part of a big, strong, smart group.
By the way, my brother was friends with Scientologists who went to jail in 1979 for the break-in at the I.R.S.--Operation Snow White. I met them at his house. I was freaked to hear about the Pauline Cooper harassment and other stuff the G.O. was doing--more proof that Scientology was not a religion like any I'd ever heard of--unless we're talking about the Spanish Inquisition. And the mother of my niece worked for the G.O. for decades--I'll write more about her later. It was intimidating to know that Scientology would attack the U.S. gov't, but maybe it made me think they had something to be so intense about, as well.
Over the next decade you could say I found my feet in L.A. I ended up with a well-paying job. That fact made a big difference when I finally got “into” Scientology. Can YOU guess why?
The only real joys in my life were that I got to work with kids (even if it was in the evil public school system) and that I was going to school at night, first for a credential and then for a master's. I had some friends.
Looked at through another lens, I had nearly constant life problems--I was frequently afraid of and angry at my bosses; my longest-term relationship was with a controlling older man who cheated on me and was abusive in many other ways--for a time I paid rent to my brother and lived with the cheater, unable to stay at either place for long. Either my boyfriend was kicking me out or my brother and Doris were having screaming fights that made it miserable to be around them. The kids no longer seemed happy, but kind of shell-shocked. Whenever I did things with them that involved the orgs, everybody put on happy faces and acted like all was hunky-dory. It was demoralizing to realize I was part of another failed family system. My near-constant depression only lifted when I was working (obsessively) or shopping (obsessively). From what I was seeing, Scientology or being Clear didn't make families happy, at all.
If I ever looked for sympathy from my brother, I got brutally lectured about conditions, ethics, being a victim, etc. I have to say I learned a lot of Hubbard data off the cuff like that. I’m good with vocabulary and it came easily to me to pick up all the Scientology jargon surrounding me.
My brother was a trip. He referred to my college degrees as "thinking about thinking.”
Doris had already explained to me that Hubbard didn’t think much of education, but she implied that she didn’t care about that. She had a degree and she intended her kids to go to college. So, I noticed already that she and my brother had “their own version” of Scientology. That made me feel that maybe I could get the benefits of Dianetics and Scientology without getting sucked into anything intense. Doris certainly seemed to feel her own auditing had helped her greatly—although it didn’t seem to make her marriage to my brother any better. She told me she was a Big Being—a term I didn’t understand but which I thought sounded a bit ridiculous. I still do.
Then in 1988 I crashed: I'd broken up with my supposed 2-D, had newly acquired a nice case of excruciating TMJ (jaw) pain, had begun to feel my job was pointless, and had lost most of my friends by being so depressed all the time.
I was ripe for regging. Enter the Scientologist chiropractor.