Rock Gods & Messy Monsters - Chapter 1 Part 1
Alex arrives at work to blood-splattered walls
My book Rock Gods & Messy Monsters was released September 7 on Amazon KDP/Kindle (paperback and ebook). The paperback should also be on Barnes & Noble by now, with other online outlets coming onboard any day, if not already.
Over the next few months, I’ll post articles about each chapter of the book here on Substack, explaining some of the scenes and the meaning behind the words and imagery. I’ll also point out what parts happened while working in the music industry. So much drama and, ultimately, so much fun. I hope you enjoy it!
Synopsis - Chapter 1, Part 1, pp. 1-2
In the opening chapter, Alex arrives at work and finds her boss’s blood splattered all over his office walls. She returns to her desk and unzips the side of her head, pulling out her brain for the day.
Her boss Langley rushes back to his office and screams at her for not cleaning up his mess. Alex complies, cleans as best she can, and returns to her desk to work on a pointless, unnecessary task.
Alex represents the millions of people who, even today, are stuck in dead-end corporate jobs. It’s work they had to take to pay their bills and survive. It’s also a dream we’re sold growing up - go to school, get a degree, get a good job, buy a house, have a family, pay taxes, and then die.
The dream makers forget to mention the crippling credit card debt many people get into, working an insane amount of hours so the money can’t be enjoyed, and the debilitating stress many live with.
Alex also represents any type of service staff, whether a bartender, waitress, cleaner, etc., who wants to pursue a creative career as an artist, musician, writer, or even entrepreneur. In short, she represents any frustrated person who is not being true to themself and is working at something they don’t want to do.
The book is Alex’s journey of self-discovery.
I was never cut out for corporate work, as you’ll see as the book progresses. Sitting in an office day after day, week after week, year after year - I find it soul-crushing. But I had big plans - I would work in the music industry as I launched my publishing career.
Back then, I figured I’d be able to write full-time within five years. I’d be on Oprah, win awards, and be a celebrated author. But I see now that I wasn’t ready then. And I bought into the illusion as most other people do.
I was an assistant, though I had to constantly correct my boss because he would always call me his secretary. Not that there’s anything wrong with people who like that job title, but I was mortified to have a four-year college degree and a Masters and be called a secretary. I was an Administrative Assistant, mind you, and worked extremely hard to move to a Coordinator position. It was so important back then. Now, I laugh.
Calling someone a name they find demeaning is a power move, a way to keep that person down.
An actual boss told me to my face that I was there to cater to his needs and not my own. (We’ll call him Langley, like the character in the book.) I needed to know what Langley wanted before he did, and I had to provide it to him, no questions asked.
I felt like I came to work every day and removed my brain.
And that’s what Alex does in the book. She had to sign the Cranium Extraction Release form as part of the hiring process, so she couldn’t say it was done against her will. But wasn’t it?
Regarding the blood vessel explosion, in real life (IRL), Langley would regularly pound on his desk and lean toward me, screaming and sometimes purple with rage. A bulging blood vessel would throb in his forehead when he was super angry. One day I saw him having a five-year-old temper tantrum and imagined blood shooting all over.
Hence, Alex’s job is sewing up his blood vessel explosions. The act of her having to sew up his neck symbolizes the demeaning tasks many assistants were forced to do to keep their jobs. I wonder if that still goes on anywhere today.
And, lastly, the chair Alex has to sit in. The assistants on my floor at the IRL record company had to sit in uncomfortable chairs. At the same time, the executives could order any type of luxury they wanted to sit on. A coworker told someone at the company she was having back issues - I can’t remember if it was human resources or a doctor. She was told she needed to exercise more. The chair wasn’t the problem. She was.
The novel begins with this scene to show the reader Alex’s work life. What Alex doesn’t know is that this is the beginning of the end for her. Or you could say this is the beginning of the beginning for her.
I know the MeToo movement has started dealing with unethical, abusive, and sometimes illegal behavior. However, I wonder how much still goes on. If you have any horror stories from work, please share them. I’ll launch the Messy Monsters campaign soon so readers can post about their feelings and frustrations.
Next week I’ll continue with Chapter One. I also need to mention that I’m not pointing a finger at anyone and not blaming anyone. The people are unimportant. Their actions make the story.
What’s important is that this type of behavior has gone on in companies in many different fields for decades. I’ve had several bosses over the years who had a habit of screaming at me, keeping me down in my job, and some who were downright abusive.
So this isn’t about IRL executives. Rock Gods & Messy Monsters is about a corporate system that allowed - or possibly still allows - this to happen. It’s about a society that focuses on material greed, where people are brought up to value others by how much money and power they have. The book is about a system where women are still subjugated - even in the U.S - and it’s not acknowledged.
So, even though I am basing this fictional novel on events and experiences I witnessed or lived through, it’s not an accusation toward a particular person. These people were permitted by the company to get away with it. The 1990s was a different time. Or was it?
And I had a role to play in it all - you’ll have to wait until the end of the book to understand what I mean.
PS - if you’d like to get a copy of the book to follow along with this series, it’s free on Kindle Unlimited, and 25% off for one week on Kindle for the ebook ($4.99 regularly) and Amazon for the paperback. ($14.95 list price). Rock Gods is only on Amazon to start but will soon be at other online retailers.
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