Hi! Welcome to my stop in the AToMR Tours-sponsored stop on the Heart’s Storm tour. Today I have an excerpt and giveaway for and should you like to follow the rest of the tour (and we would be all kinds of excited if you do!) just click here.
Elizabeth Shulman, a twenty-seven-year-old Russian Jewish immigrant, would like nothing better than not to die a corporate accountant working at a Fortune 100 company. She wants to walk away from the corporate rat-race, but…she’s still holding onto the painful memories from her poor past—from the days her family came to America with nothing so that their children could have a free life.
But soon one day’s event turns Elizabeth’s world upside down and inside out. With her bubble burst, Elizabeth decides to take the first step, quit her job. However, her bullying boss from HELL offers her a promotion and a big raise. But there’s a hitch. She must also agree to do pro bono work to bolster the company’s image. Her pro bono assignment: tutor unprivileged kids in a Southwest Chicago elementary school. And there, in school, her life begins to change when she gets a peek at a different type of world from her own.
Heart’s Storm is a bitter-sweet romantic comedy about love and career, family and friends, immigration and hardships, betrayal and forgiveness, and the promise of the American dream.
I was ready to cross, but the light has turned to red, so I stopped to wait for it to change. I glanced up and down the sidewalk and across the street, where pedestrians were rushing back and forth.
Rushing pedestrians. Back and forth, back and forth, there, there they went: click, click, click. I could hear their heels on the pavement, trying to conquer the beast, rush against time in the city, where the shushing echo bounced from building to building, from ear to ear; “time is money,” it screamed; a substance that doesn’t grow on trees; a substance that everyone wants; and yet, I sighed deeply, a substance that you can’t take to your grave. Click. Click. Click. So why rush so fast then?
For a second I stood on the sidewalk just watching the pedestrians, and then in my mind I saw myself take off and sprint into the crowd. There I go, there I go, clearly blending in with the rushing people, and running, running along as I always did everyday. Just like them, just like them. How I hate myself for doing that! There, there, I go! Where are we rushing like that? Can anyone please give me an answer to that?
Then something squeezed tightly inside me. There it was again, that sad, overwhelming, deep aching emptiness in my heart. It came on like a hurricane. How could this happen so fast?
A few moments ago, I was among people: I stood next to businessmen and women, a homeless bum, construction workers, young college kids, a few cops, and others townspeople, under the bright blue sky that hung low over the skyscrapers. Everywhere I looked, people were wide awake, talking. They stood close and chatted in groups, or they stood apart and yelled, their voices echoing the streets. Not anymore. On the sidewalk I was standing utterly alone, staring now at the building across the street. What was inside the walls was pure futility. They are still here, people, and yet, I am all alone.
Stop it! It’s just a building. Not so. For five years, that was my whole life. It is still your whole life, isn’t it?
I craved something different, I needed meaning and purpose. I didn’t know what I needed.
I looked up in the sky, and said, in a voice louder than I intended, “Just so you know, I’m not going to be there for the rest of my life.”
My philosophy professor in college often talked about how life is a lot like puzzle. We can eventually make sense of it, if we could just hold all the pieces together at the same time. I haven’t gotten any further than that.
Julia was born in Minsk, Belarus. At the age of eleven, she immigrated with her family to the United States. She currently lives in Chicago, IL with her husband and their daughter, Arielle. She graduated from DePaul University in 2002 with a B.A. in Accounting and Finance. She also has an MBA from DePaul University in Entrepreneurship. She studied Creative Writing with Jerry Cleaver at the Writer’s Loft, and with Susan Breen at NYC Pitch and Shop, among many others. Additionally, Julia was one of the staff writers for the Chicago Holocaust Project, “Evidence of Holocaust: Never Forget.”