Christmas soon came and I had no money for presents for my family. Christmas had always been a big tradition in my family.
I took the few dollars that I had and walked down to a little Vietnamese store on the corner of Alvarado and Eighth Streets and bought little dollar presents for my family. I wrapped them in newspaper and sent them in a shoe box to Michigan.
My contact with my family had been sporadic. I called my father about once a month to ask for money, an exercise I always found humiliating, but I did it out of necessity.
Wages in the Sea Org were minimal. My first pay check for an 100 plus hour work week was three dollars. My highest pay one week was eleven dollars.
The way the pay was determined was as follows: ten percent of the weekly gross of the "org" (in this case Celebrity Center) was sent to Hubbard. Then, after expenses were paid, the rest of the money was divided among the staff on a units system; each job in the org was accorded so many units.
So the hundred dollars I received every month from my father was what I spent for toiletries and other expenses. My only luxury was an occasional ice cream cone for a quarter at a delicatessen a few blocks away.
On Christmas Day, I was blue. After joining the Sea Org, I was moved out of the house on Burlington Street into a house on Beacon Street several blocks away. There I had only a mattress on the floor and a blanket, standard Sea Org accomodations.
On Christmas Day, there wasn't much to do, so I wandered back to my quarters. There was a young man there who was relaxing on his mattress. His name was Richard Royce, and he was a favorite of Yvonne's because he was an excellent artist and had published a book of his paintings.
Richard and I began to talk, and it turned out that he was as lonely as I was. Soon we were making love in the otherwise deserted quarters.
A month later, I discovered that I was pregnant. Yvonne was very displeased. The last thing she wanted for Richard was a child to support.
So I was ordered to have an abortion. I was given the address of the social services office in downtown L.A. and I went there to apply for Medicaid funding for an abortion.
Having secured that, I took a bus into the Watts area of the city where there was a clinic specializing in abortions.
I was very frightened on the bus, as I was the only white person aboard, and also in the clinic, I stood out. I had the abortion, and after a short stay in the recovery room of the clinic, and some orange juice and graham crackers, I was on a bus back to the Center.
It was as simple as that. I reported to Yvonne that it was accomplished and she was satisfied.
At the time, I didn't feel any sense of grief or loss. I accepted the orders without question and simply did what I had to do to please Yvonne. I had never thought about abortion, and had never received any teaching or propaganda against it, and I didn't think of it as killing a child within me.
I think also, because of the friction in my family background, the idea of being married and having a family was far from my thoughts. I didn't want to repeat the experience of my parents. It had been too painful.
Now that I was in the Sea Org, there was the question of what to do with me. My piano playing was too amateurish to be of much use to the Center. I was used occasionally as a Dianetic auditor, especially when one of the staff needed an emergency session or "assist."
When someone had a toothache, or headache, instead of aspirin or a dentist, a Scientology procedure called a "touch assist" was used. In the assist, the auditor would press his or her finger against the body of the person being audited with the command, "Feel my finger." This was repeated on all parts of the body radiating from the center of the body out to the extremities for perhaps an hour or so, or until the ache or pain had lifted.
Going to a doctor was highly discouraged, and getting involved in any other sort of therapy was strictly forbidden. As psychiatry was the sworn enemy of Scientology, any sort of psychological or psychiatric help was especially forbidden.
I worked as sort of an aide to Yvonne. I carried messages for her over to the Advanced Org which was located a few blocks away. Sometimes I made trips to the other Scientology organizations: the Los Angeles Org, located on Ninth Street, or the American Saint Hill Organization, named after Hubbard's mansion in England.
Yvonne had moved to the house that I now lived in, although she had her own bedroom. I was used as a cook and babysitter in the house when they were short of help. One of my duties was to watch over the two young children of one of the Center's more advanced auditors. As I have always loved children, I was not unhappy with this assignment.
So the days passed.
My illness was temporarily in remission. I was having no bothersome symptoms and the panic attacks had seemed to abate, which I of course attributed to the auditing I was receiving.
One day, as I was sitting on the wooden curb outside Celebrity Center, a young man named Carlos came up to me.
"I hear you've finished your Dianetic auditing," he said to me. "I'm a student on the Grades, and I'm looking for a preclear to audit. Are you interested?"
Was I ever!
After Dianetics on the Grade Chart, were the Grades from Zero to Four. Normally these Grades would cost thousands of dollars, but there were always students around the Center looking for preclears to audit for free, so they could complete their course.
We went to Carlos' apartment a few blocks away, where he set up his E-meter and I sat down opposite him and picked up the cans.
The first grade he was going to audit me on was Grade Zero, also called Communication, and I was very interested in this level because it said on the Grade Chart that the end result was "the ability to communicate with anyone on any subject."
As I had always been shy, this seemed an impossible goal for me, but Carlos said we wouldn't quit until I had achieved it.
He began to ask me a lot of questions about communication. He would ask the same questions over and over again. Questions like:
"Who can you communicate to?"
"My mother," I answered.
"What can you communicate to your mother about?"
"About school, about clothes, about money, about anything."
"OK," he continued, "who else can you communicate to?"
"What can you communicate to your father about?"
"Mostly about money. We talk about money."
"Who else can you communicate to?" And this went on and on.
About an hour into the session I was getting annoyed with this asking the same question over and over again. I felt myself getting angry.
"Who else can you communicate to?" Carlos asked for the fortieth time. I had given him every answer I could think of.
"Anyone," I said angrily. "I can communicate with anyone. About anything."
Then I started to laugh.
"That's the answer, isn't it? I really can communicate with anyone about anything. Why didn't I ever think of it before? What have I been so afraid of all this time?"
Carlos didn't say a word. He kept watching his E-meter.
Finally, he looked up at me. "I'd like to indicate that your needle is floating," he said, watching me carefully.
I was in shock. Did I realize I had just become the victim of hypnotic suggestion? Not in the least. But I did have the "end phenomenon" of the level. I knew with certainty that I could communicate with anyone on any subject. Of that I was sure.
"End of session," Carlos announced. "You can put down the cans."
We walked over to the Examiner together. I was laughing all the way.
"I can't believe it's so simple," I kept telling him. "Is that all there is to it?" He didn't answer. He just smiled.
He turned his folder in to the Case Supervisor. I was told to wait in a chair in the lobby.
About a half an hour later, I was called into the classroom.
"That's it!" called out the Class Supervisor. "Margery has just become a Grade Zero Release!"
Then there was the usual applause, and I had to make a speech.
"I just can't believe it is so simple," was about all I said. I was still laughing inside about the whole thing. It seemed like something inside me had burst, some invisible bond had released, and my reaction to it was one of hilarity. I couldn't stop laughing.
During the next few days, Carlos and I audited the next four grades. All were similar to Grade Zero, but none of them had as much of an effect on me. However, I passed each one with flying colors.
On Grade One, the focus was on life problems.
"What problem could you confront?" Carlos asked me. Then, "What problem would you rather not confront?"
Eventually, I realized that I had "the ability to recognize the source of problems (myself), and make them vanish," the "end phenomenon" of Grade One.
Grade Two had to do with guilt. The questions were:
"Tell me some things you think you should not have done to another." And, "What have you done to another that you regret?"
I was getting the hang of these levels. I began to look for the required "cognitions" that I was supposed to have, and our sessions grew shorter and shorter.
"I don't feel guilty about anything I have done."
I was then a Grade Two "completion."
Grade Three had to do with change.
The questions were, "What do you want changed?" and "What do you want unchanged?"
The cognition was that I was free of the upsets of my past.
Grade Four was a bit more confusing, as it concerned something called one's "service facsimile," a psychological mechanism that Hubbard said we all had, a way of making others wrong.
There was only one question: "In this lifetime what do you use to make others wrong?"
I don't remember what answer I came up with, but whatever it was it was enough for me to pass the test.
I was now a Grade Four "Release" and had only three levels to go before I was Clear.
Shortly after this, I was walking to Mario's apartment one night, when I experienced a most remarkable event.
I was walking along the street when suddenly I felt like there was a tremendous explosion all around me.
I looked around. Everything looked much brighter than usual. Colors were vivid in an unreal way.
At the same time, I had a realization that there was nothing but the present. The past did not exist. All there was was the Now.
I felt exhilarated. The vivid colors and the feeling of elation continued all the way to Mario's. When I got to his apartment, I told him what happened and he seemed quite excited.
"You have just had a Clear cognition," he told me. "That is a great sign of progress."
I had to go to ASHO (the American Saint Hill Organization) to the Examiner to "attest" to what had just happened to me.
After a short wait, it was confirmed and announced in the lobby that I had indeed had a "Clear cognition."
This meant that I could bypass a level called "Power" and go directly to the Clearing Course, via a short course called the Solo Course on which I would learn to audit myself. (On all courses above Power, one audited oneself on the E-meter).
There was only one problem.
The Solo Course cost $700, and I didn't have it.
It was time to call home.
Unbelievably, my father agreed to give me the money.
I guess he thought it was for my education.
I was elated as I waited for the money to arrive.
Just as Mario had promised, soon I would be Clear!
Free of my reactive mind forever.
I couldn't wait.