A Good Place to Start


January 5

I am Marcy Elizabeth Burnham, and this is my journal. The only reason I’m writing this is because Bishop Conway says we should and that it would be a good idea for a New Year’s resolution. I needed a resolution because I don’t have much of an imagination to think one up myself, so I guess I’ll do this. First I’ll tell about myself. I’m about five foot two and weigh 100 pounds. I weighed only 95 before Christmas, but Mom and everyone says it’s okay to weigh 100. I’m going on a diet starting tomorrow, or maybe the next day because we’re making apple crisp in homemaking tomorrow and Mrs. Peterson says we have to eat what we cook. Besides, I love apple crisp!

I have long brown hair that’s real thin and just hangs there doing nothing but being real thin. Dad says that I get that from his side of the family. I wonder if his side of the family realizes how much heartache they’ve caused me. Anyway, because of him I’m also extremely nearsighted and I wear glasses. I got some new ones last month. They are big and round like the ones that are in style now. If I have to wear glasses, they might as well look stylish. But they don’t on me. People always laugh a little when they first see me. Mom says it’s because I have such a thin face and they aren’t used to me yet. I wish they would get used to me. No one knows how it feels to walk into classes and have people say, “Here comes Bugmug!” Or walk down the hall at school and have Curtis Walker, of all people, say, “Hi, Frame Face!” Yesterday a boy I didn’t even know asked me where the Red Baron was. I even had on my long scarf so my glasses really looked like goggles. If I weren’t so blind I’d take them off. My old glasses are broken so I can’t wear them. Maybe I could accidentally break these too. Mom would kill me though.

My next terrific attribute is that I wear braces on my teeth. I’ve had them on for almost two years now, and I can’t wait to get them off.

I’m 13 years old so I’m a real honest-to-goodness teenager now! I go to Mutual and I’m a Beehive. In only one more year I’ll be a Mia Maid. I hope this next year goes fast.

February 1

I forgot I had this journal until last Sunday when Bishop Conway mentioned it again, and then I kept putting it off until today. Tomorrow at church I can tell Bishop Conway I keep a journal and be honest about it.

My teeth hurt. I got my braces tightened yesterday, and they still hurt. I hope they feel better by next Tuesday when we have our party with the Scouts. We’re all going over to Sister Marshall’s house to make pizza and play games. I hope Doug Richards goes. He hardly ever comes to church anymore. No one knows why either. He lives around the corner from me. I see him a lot because he walks past our house to go home from school. We never talk though. Jenny, my best friend, thinks he’s cute. She always comes home from school with me and makes me sit on the front step in the cold to talk with her until he goes by. The whole time he walks by our house she sits and giggles. That’s so dumb. She never says anything—just giggles. He always looks mad, and yesterday he walked on the other side of the street. I feel dumb on the front step. I hope he doesn’t think I’m like Jenny. I wish I knew what to do when he walks by so I could make a good impression on him. He is kind of cute.

February 28

I got my hair cut today, and now it does something! It’s even kind of cute. My glasses don’t look so funny anymore either. Maybe I’ll be like the ugly duckling and turn into a beautiful swan, but I’ll probably turn into a mallard duck.

I played the piano for Primary last Sunday. The little kids are so cute. I wish I could always do that. If I practiced my piano lessons more, I’ll bet I could. Miss Timothy would probably have a cow if I passed a piece the first week. It might be kind of fun to see her face. She’d probably drop her little pencil that she leads with while I play the piano. Maybe I’ll practice more just to see her be shocked.

Jenny was sick yesterday so she didn’t come over and sit on the front porch, but I was coming home from the store with my mom the same time Doug walked by. My mom used to teach him in Primary, so she waved and yelled practically loud enough for the whole neighborhood to hear, “Hi, Doug! How are you?” I was so embarrassed. Sometimes I think my mother embarrasses me on purpose. He said he was fine, and then before I had a chance to run in the house he said, “Hi, Marcy.” My temperature shot up, and I probably turned red, but I said, “Hi.” I hope he heard me. I didn’t say it very loud. I don’t know why I was so embarrassed and warm all of a sudden. It was even cold outside. My body is so stupid sometimes.

March 13

Yesterday I found out that Jenny and her family are moving to Washington in two weeks. Her father is leaving Saturday to go find a house there. I wish she didn’t have to go, but her dad got transferred and she can’t even finish her first year of junior high here. She seems to be pretty happy about it because she said there might be some cute boys in their new town. She’s just boy crazy. I’m glad I’m not. I would always be sad because every boy I liked would never like me back. Who would like a girl that looked like an ant wearing railroad tracks on her teeth? Will I ever be pretty? If I were Cinderella, my fairy godmother would have to do a lot more for me than just give me a pretty dress to wear. By the time she got through with me, the ball would be over and the prince would have run off with some boy-crazy girl like Jenny. I’ll miss Jenny though.

April 8

Jenny moved, and now I’m becoming better friends with a girl named Robin Warner who just moved into our ward. She’s my age, has braces, and feels like I do about boys! We’re going to be great pals!

Today was so exciting. First I went to the orthodontist, and he said that I get my braces off next month! I’m so excited! My whole life is beginning to look better to me. My hair is trained now, and it does what I want at least twice a week! Everything is going so great. Everything except Doug. I keep seeing him around school and on his way home from school. We both just kind of look at each other and grin half-and-half while we wait for the other person to talk first. I wish I weren’t so shy. I wonder if there’s a book about overcoming shyness that I could read.

Church was really good today. In Sunday School Brother Ferguson tried to give a lesson on missionary work. Our class is so noisy all the time. We’ve had three teachers now, but no one wants us. Robin and I are the only ones who ever listen except Leslie Powell, who is the teacher’s pet, and Kyle, because his dad is the teacher. The lesson was really good though. He said that a good place to start missionary work is trying to get the people in the ward who are inactive to come. That gave me an idea. I’m going to be a missionary to Doug. I can’t be shy forever. Next time I see him I’ll tell him about the ward dinner we’re having in a couple of weeks. His whole family is inactive. They used to come to church a long time ago, but then they just kind of quit. I’ll get Doug first; then I’ll help him get the rest of his family. This is a great plan! Sometimes I’m smarter than I think.

April 20

I blew it! I saw Doug at school today, and I blew it. I was just getting out of my French class and he was getting out of art, which is across the hall from my classroom. He was walking toward me to go to his locker, and I was walking toward him to go pick up Robin from her orchestra class. We looked at each other and put on our half-and-half smiles. I just kept walking toward him, staring at him with that stupid grin on my face, and before I could get enough courage to say anything, he had gone past me. Boy, am I stupid. I feel like a complete failure. I don’t even want to think about it anymore.

April 21

I tried again today, and this time it worked. It was really a nice day outside, so I decided to go out in front and play with Maynard, our dog. I had just barely thrown a stick for him and he had gone to get it when I looked up just in time to see Doug coming down the street. My first reaction was to run, but I caught myself and decided I’d better do it now or never. By this time, Maynard was bringing the stick back to me so I took it and very cleverly happened to throw it almost right next to where Doug was walking. Then Doug did something I didn’t expect. He picked up the stick before Maynard got to it and threw it back to me. Before I knew it we had a fun game of Keep Away going with poor Maynard in the middle. Maynard didn’t think it was so fun, so I dropped the stick on purpose, and he took it and fell asleep under the tree. Doug asked me why I did that, so I had to explain that Maynard was getting old and he can’t exercise much. He said, “Oh,” picked up his books, and started walking away. This time I called after him. I asked him if he wanted to do me a favor and buy a ticket to the ward dinner this Friday night. I made it sound like I really had to sell them fast, but no one was buying them. Actually my dad was really the one selling them, but I felt like I should help out. I told him how much they cost. I told him to bring his whole family if he wanted to because they could get a good deal on family tickets. He said he’d ask his mom, and then he left. I finally asked him! I couldn’t believe it was actually me talking, but it was and I’m not so dumb after all.

April 22

Doug’s mom called my mom today asking about the ward dinner. She wants to go. She always wanted her family to come back to church, but her husband didn’t seem interested. He’s out of town this week, so she wants to do it. My mom was surprised because she didn’t think Doug would even remember about the dinner. Doug’s mom bought a ticket for the whole family. I’m so excited!

April 23

Tonight was the dinner. It was pretty good. The best part was when Sister Richards and all six kids came in. The whole ward was so nice to them. They sat across the table from us, and Sister Richards and my mom got to be good friends. I talked to Doug a little bit, like when I asked him if he liked his dinner. After he got through eating he went off with Kyle Ferguson and Scott Sullivan. Doug seemed like he was really having a good time. I was glad Kyle and Scott were nice to him because I didn’t know what to say to him. His mother and little brothers and sisters seemed to be having fun too. All in all, I would say that tonight was a very good night.

April 25

Today in church everyone had the shock of their lives when they turned around and saw the whole Richards family walking in, led by Brother Richards! He seemed happy to be there. I was embarrassed at how noisy our Sunday School class was for Doug, but it was quieter than usual, and he was making some of the noise.

May 21

Today I got my braces off. My teeth feel real neat when I run my tongue along them. I have to wear a retainer, but at least it’s not braces and I can take it out whenever I want to. I got the braces off this morning, so my friends at school all got to see me with bare teeth. I saw Doug, and I felt so good that I gave him a great big smile and said, “Hi!” He smiled a real smile and said, “Hi!” right back, only he looked like he couldn’t figure out what was different about me. I love having white teeth again instead of silver.

Doug’s family has been coming to church just about every week now. The whole family just fits right in. I think they’re going to come back in for good now. I’m glad I got up enough courage to ask Doug to that dinner. I must admit that it wasn’t all me though. I just know that Heavenly Father had something to do with the Richards family too. I’ll bet he’s even happier than I am that they’re back in the Church. Anyway, being a missionary is so much fun. It makes you feel so good inside. I think I’ll do it again. Watch out world! Marcy Elizabeth Burnham, the girl with the hair that does something and straight teeth, is on the move.

[illustrations] Illustrated by Lori Anderson