Recently I've been working on a course through BYU Independent Study. It's a course on the first half of the Doctrine and Covenants, which fulfills one of my remaining general education requirements at BYU. Now, I already have a problem with religion courses at BYU because I don't feel like my academic grade should be based on how well I do in a religion course, and I don't like that people who attend other places besides BYU get institute credit just for attending class while I actually have to write papers, take tests, and all that jazz. But to add insult to injury, this specific class has been particularly irksome. It consists of sixteen open-book online quizzes and two proctored examinations---a midterm and a final. Not too bad, right? Well, what if I told you that every other question on the open-book quizzes tried to trick you? And what if any question that didn't try to trick you was a question that seemed to be such a stupid thing to be testing? Who on earth cares if the fact that Joseph Smith lost the 116 manuscript pages happened before or after he and Emma lost their firstborn son? What effect does my knowledge of the chronological events of church history have on my eternal salvation? I dislike irrelevant and trick questions in any class, but I have a particular problem with them in a religion class, where the focus should be more on whether I'm learning and growing in the gospel than on whether or not I can see past such tricky nonsense. (Okay, sorry, rant over.)
But this week I have discovered something that makes working through this course much more enjoyable. I have found myself making more time than necessary to study because I actually somewhat enjoy it. What has brought on this change of heart? A beautiful, jet-black, baby guinea pig named Lucy. Lucy joined our family on Monday. We'd been discussing getting a guinea pig for a couple of months, but my dad suggested that we wait to get one until I came home for the summer so I could enjoy it while it was still younger. On Monday for our family home evening activity, we went to the home of a guinea pig breeder to see the new babies she had. We hadn't planned to purchase one while we were there. We just wanted to look at the babies. But when we got there, we immediately fell in love with the pure black 8-week-old guinea pigs running around in one of the cages. We couldn't resist. We had the hardest time coming up with her name. We suggested everything from Rose to Lila to Winnie the Pig. :) Finally, my mom came up with Lucy, and we all decided that was a good choice. Lucy it is.
Now, you may be asking, "But how does a guinea pig make working on your class more enjoyable?" Well, as my family can attest, nearly every minute that I have been sitting at the table working on my course, I have had Lucy on my lap. There is something so soothing about having an adorable, furry little body that you can just hold and stroke. And I love making her purr! Yes, you heard me right. Guinea pigs purr. We had a pair a few years ago and discovered that they would purr if we rubbed their fur the wrong way. Lucy is no different. Only a day after we got her, I had her purring in my arms. It's so funny, and so adorable! And I also have found great satisfaction in feeding her. She likes carrots, apples, and Romaine lettuce, but she has a passion for tomatoes. It's so fun to watch her grab a morsel we offer her and see it disappear while she munches away. So I like to just have her on my lap, stroke her, and occasionally feed her some treat or other while I work on my course. It has made my time in front of my "textbook" much more fun. :) Garrett thinks I'm weird for having the guinea pig with me "wherever I go," but I honestly don't care. I'd almost forgotten what it was like to have a pet bigger than a golf ball in the house, and I'd almost forgotten how much I'd missed it.
Would you be surprised if I told you Lucy was on my lap right now as I'm writing this? I didn't think so. :)