Summer Activities

This is another post from the “Stories from the West” project which I am doing with Dixie. We will be writing 1 post each month with the same topic, to give you a glimpse of our lives as new immigrants in our respective countries. This month’s topic is about “summer stories”. Check out some things that you can do during summertime in Southern California, and don’t forget to read Dixie’s story here 🙂

In the US, summer usually starts with Memorial Day long weekend. It falls on the last Monday of May, and it’s a holiday to honor those who have passed away during their military service.

However, since I am lucky enough to live in Southern California, our “summer days” actually started way before that. As soon as the weather gets a little bit warmer and sunshine’s out, R and I like to go to the beach. So it happens that the beach is only 15 minutes away from where we live, making it convenient for us to go frequently.

I remember last year, my first summer in the US. We went to the beach almost everyday! I was so tired of the cold weather (Mind you I arrived here during winter time), so I was embracing the warm summer days wholeheartedly.

Last year – chillin at the beach

Unfortunately it’s not the case this year. I haven’t spent a proper day at the beach at all this year! 😦 Somehow the weather is yet to warm up, I still find it too cold whenever I tried to spend a day at the beach. But I’m patient. I know summer is just right around the corner, so I’m counting days to where I will spend most of my days at the beach again.

Anyway, going to the beach is actually just one of the many activities that you can do during summer here in Southern California. Here are other exciting things that you can do during summertime…

Festivals and Concerts

Coachella 2015

I think festival season in Southern California starts with Coachella in April. Then a ton of other festivals follow. From music festivals like Just Like Heaven that I went to, to culinary festivals, book festivals, comic festivals, art festivals… there’s always a festival for everyone! I personally love going to festival, especially music festival because I just like to be part of the energetic crowd! Then there’s also music concerts. Summer is usually the time where musicians go on tour, and living in LA, I am never short of concert wishlist. If I had the time, energy, and money, I’d probably be out going to a concert every weekend hehehe.

Fairs

When I was living in England, I was made familiar with markets. From a small-scale weekend market that usually takes place in your neighborhood to a big-scale Christmas market with tons of stalls, games, and some attractions. Here in the US we got fairs. It is similar to markets in concept, only in a bigger scale. Well, at least that’s what happen here in Orange County, where I live. Last year I went to OC fair and I plan to do the same this year. OC fair has hundreds of booths from food to trinkets, and there’s also a lot of other activities like petting zoo, mini amusement park, and mini concert. It’s fun and it lasts for one whole month!

Outdoor Activities

Summer also means it’s the perfect time to go outdoor. The US is blessed with such beautiful nature and people here like to go out and about when the weather gets warmer. We go out camping, hiking, visiting national parks, or just spending time at the beach or at parks doing barbeque with friends and family. R and I are going to a national park too this month, I really can’t wait! Last but not least, summer is also the time for baseball! Although this one is really not my cup of tea but I would love to see a Dodgers game one day this summer. Let’s hope I can get a good deal for a ticket!

So those are the things that you can do during summer in Southern California. Is it any different than where you live? I’d love to hear your stories in the comment box. See you in the next Stories from The West post, and have a great summer ahead 🙂

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Catatan Ramadan 2019

Nggak berasa ya, sekarang sudah hari – hari terakhir bulan Ramadan. Ini adalah Ramadan kali kedua saya di Amerika, kali kedua sebagai istri, jadi tentunya banyak hal menarik yang bisa saya rangkum buat bahan kenang – kenangan di blog 🙂 Oh iya kalau mau baca cerita Ramadan tahun 2018 disini, tahun 2017 disini ya.

Oke, lanjut. Awal bulan Ramadan kali ini saya berasa lemes banget, rasanya puasa tuh berat banget, hampir seminggu saya jam 3 siang udah berasa lemes, lesu, kedinginan, dan cuma bisa tidur sampai menjelang buka puasa jam 7:30 malam. Saya sempet nanya2 di Twitter, gimana sih tips nya puasa panjang, dan juga nanya2 sama teman disini. Jawabannya bervariasi sih, tapi banyak yang bilang, makan kurma! Alhasil saya coba deh sahur pakai kurma, begitu juga pas buka puasa. Eh bener lho, nggak tau karena kurma nya, atau karena badan sudah beradaptasi, Alhamdulilah habis itu saya kuat puasa, nggak pakai lemes – lemes dan kedinginan lagi.

Sama seperti tema keagamaan pribadi saya akhir – akhir ini, tujuan saya di Ramadan ini pengen cari kedamaian dan ketenangan hati. Lumayan luas ya artinya, tapi Alhamdulilah saya mulai dituntun ke arah yang bikin saya senyum – senyum di bulan Ramadan ini, melalui bentuk yang bermacam – macam. Hehe, bingung nggak? Intinya memang kedamaian dan ketenangan hati itu memang personal sekali ya sifatnya.

Ramadan kali ini saya banyak menghabiskan waktu sendiri. Jadi karena sempat merasa lemas di awal Ramadan, saya memutuskan untuk libur sejenak dari berbagai kerjaan freelance saya. Eh, di minggu kedua saya sudah sehat, malah R yang kerjanya sibuk banget dan lembur terus. Jadilah saya sering buka puasa sendirian dan banyak waktu untuk mempelajari hal – hal yang memang ingin dipelajari 🙂

Tapi, mungkin karena saya banyak sendiri, mungkin karena sudah satu tahun lebih belum pulang ke Indonesia, Ramadan kali ini saya merasa kangen banget dengan Indonesia. Kangen keluarga besar, kangen komunitas, kangen puasa bareng – bareng, bahkan saya sempet bilang sama R “duh sedih juga ya disini sepi puasanya, nih lihat deh temen2 di Jakarta pada saling kirim2an hampers lebaran, disini mana ada yang kasih hampers” Cetek banget ya keinginan saya hahaha, tapi bener sempet ngomong gitu ke R pas saya lihat instastory teman – teman di Jakarta yang saling berbagi kiriman makanan berbuka atau sahur.

Eh, nggak taunya, nggak disangka hari Jumat ini ada teman saya telpon pagi – pagi, bilang mau mampir ke rumah karena dia lagi ada urusan di daerah saya. Pas buka pager, dia dan suaminya nenteng hampers dong buat kami! Isinya puding coklat rumahan pakai fla, yang nggak sabar saya makan buat berbuka puasa nanti. Yaampun, terharu banget deh. Beneran saya bilang, gak ada kepikiran sama sekali bakal dapat sesuatu buat lebaran disini, karena kan beda aja ya budayanya. Taunya malah dapet kiriman, Alhamdulillah 🙂 Kadang – kadang, keajaiban itu bukan sesuatu yang masif, tapi tetap aja efeknya bisa membuat hati tenang, senang, dan senyum – senyum seharian. Alhamdulillah 🙂

Semoga Ramadan kali ini juga memberikan ketenangan dan kedamaian bagi kamu, kamu, dan kamu, dimanapun kamu berada. Semoga kita masih dipertemukan dengan Ramadan berikutnya dan bisa menjadi pribadi yang lebih baik lagi di hari – hari selanjutnya, dan semoga kita tetap diberkahi dengan keajaiban – keajaiban besar atau kecil yang membuat hati senang. Mohon maaf lahir dan batin, selamat menjelang lebaran ya!

Finding Peace

For a while I refrained myself from writing about this, even though I have been thinking about this (a lot) for quite some time. I understand that it might be controversial to some, but hey this blog is called ‘Christa Bercerita’ because this is where I tell my stories.. and today it’s about faith.

I was born and raised Muslim, I am still a Muslim and I should note here that I was brought up in an interfaith household. My dad was a devout Muslim, my mom is a devout Christian and together they raised me as a Muslim. Whole my life, I am used to the exposure of the two faiths, and strangely enough my husband comes from a diverse background too – half of his family is Christian, while he is born and raised Muslim. So – that’s a little background about me.

Fast forward to the last few years, I started to question my faith. Not the Islam that I grew up with, but particularly the way some Indonesians Muslims practice their faith …. (I don’t want to generalize but that’s how I see it). In the past few years, I’ve seen more and more people / friends / colleagues / family / acquaintances getting more religious and especially with social media they are spreading their “newly-found-again” faith out loud.

I get it, I’m all about free speech and I (try my best) to value everyone’s opinion. But there’s this thing that I found very disturbing. I found that the narrative of this whole “newly-found-again” (or in Indonesian – hijrah) Islam is mostly (again, I don’t want to generalize) fear.

I’ve lost count of the times I went to a sermon, only to hear about how I’ve done soooo bad as a human being and I’m super sinful that I will burn in hell. I’ve lost count of the instagram posts telling me that I will get X punishment in hell because I don’t cover my hair or because I didn’t do this and that.

Truth be told these things don’t make me feel peace at all, instead they make me uneasy, and I thought being religious is supposed to bring peace on to my daily life.

I mean I don’t want to pray because I’m afraid that if I didn’t I will burn in hell. I don’t want to give to the poor and needy only because I want something in return, as I often hear, “give to the needy, your prayers will be heard!” I mean do I really have to have a motive in giving back? That does not feel right. I want to give because I feel like giving, because I feel thankful, and I want to pray because I want to feel close to God, because I want to feel peace. Not because I’m afraid. And definitely not because I want something in return!

So yeah, I kind of stop following Indonesian Islam (if there’s such thing.. but you know what I mean). Which is a bit sad, because I know Islam is all about communities and at the moment I don’t feel like I belong in my own community.

Thankfully, I am starting to find peace at my mosque here. Although I am yet to go there often, I love what I’m hearing so far. Every sermon I heard made me smile, made me feel at peace, and maybe I’ll find my community here. For now, I’ll continue observing Ramadan with an open heart, may this month brings Peace to you and I ❤

Sunday

I woke up early, and we decided to get breakfast. We tried a brunch cafe not far from our house, only 10 minutes drive away. We were the first guests when we arrived at 7AM, right when they just opened. Not long after, another couple came in. Then another. And another. It was a full house by 7:30AM. Wow, it looks like the cafe is quite popular in the neighborhood. Why haven’t we been here before, I asked R. Let’s try the food first, he said.

I ordered a typical American breakfast menu – eggs, sausage, potatoes and toast. Only I asked for the toast to be changed to english muffins. It’s the closest I can get to crumpets here :)))) R ordered pesto bagel – it was really good, he said. I also had a cup of latte which was not bad at all, similar to what I usually make at home. But it’s Sunday, I want someone to make my coffee because I don’t wan’t to deal with the dishes :)))))

After breakfast we spent a bit of time at the beach, then went back home. I did some freelance work, R went on relaxing. He needed the rest&relaxation day after his long week.

I was too caught up with work when I realised it’s already past 4PM and we haven’t had lunch. I woke R up, we were both starving. Well, it’s the perfect time to use our Gyu-kaku points, I said. Let’s go! He said. There’s nothing better than eating good food with points, which brought down our bill to 50% less! 😀

Btw, tonight is the start of Ramadan. We will be fasting for a whole month starting tomorrow. So we went to Target to stock up on some pantry items. I haven’t finished my meal plan so I just stock up on some fruits, oatmeal and protein bars for our suhoor. We will be fasting for 15 hours this year, and this is going to be my second Ramadan in the US. I’m excited! I’m hoping for some miracles this month and I’m also looking forward to reflect and give back.

Now I’m relaxing at home. It’s been a long day. R is right beside me, watching Game of Thrones. I don’t follow the series, I just don’t get the hype. Don’t get me wrong, I tried to watch a couple of episodes… Anyway I let him have the TV every Sunday night, so here I am typing in my WordPress app while listening to Spotify with earphones on. All good, it’s been a good day, and I hope it will be a good Ramadan for us all 🙂

5 Phrases That Make You Sound Like a Californian

You are reading another post from the “Stories from the West” project which I am doing with Dixie. We will be writing 1 post each month with the same topic, to give you a glimpse of our lives as new immigrants in our respective countries. This month’s topic is “local lingo”. Don’t forget to read Dixie’s story here and hope you’ll enjoy our stories! 🙂

Some of the best way to immerse yourself into a new culture is by speaking is language. This is actually a part of immigrating that at first I didn’t find too hard to be done, because I already speak English. Even so, I still found myself confused at times when I was talking to a local, because they were speaking in some lingo that I was yet to understand. It took me a while to understand these phrases, which I am going to share with you.

“To get to Hollywood from Santa Monica, take the 10 to the 110 to the 101″

If you look at Los Angeles’ map, you will see that this city has a lot of freeways! The freeways are numbered, and if you spend just enough time in Los Angeles, you will hear people casually use freeway numbers in sentences to describe directions. I found it very confusing at first and I had to sort of memorize LA map to finally be able to understand what do they mean when people are using these numbers. Oh, and btw, try to avoid the 405 at all times 😉

“What’s up, Homie?”

Are you following American Idol this season? If you do, then you probably saw how Katy Perry called Alejandro Aranda – one of the contestants, her homie. Homie is an American slang from homeboy, mostly used to call your guy friends, someone that you are close with and hang out regularly. This phrase is mostly used between people of Mexican-American background, and since there are a lot of people with Mexican-American background in Los Angeles and Southern California in general, you would probably hear this phrase often.

“I’ll Have it Animal Style, Please!”

There is a fast food chain that Californians really love, and it’s called In-N-Out burger. This chain is different than most burger chains because it keeps its menu simple, in fact they only have fries, cheeseburger, beefburger, soft drink and milkshake. That’s it. No fancy burger menu, no sides, and definitely no seasonal menu like McDonalds. The best thing about In-N-Out is that they never freeze their produce, so it’s always fresh. Anyway, although their menu is simple, they allow you to customize your burger as you like, and there are a couple of “Secret menu” that everyone likes to order. One of it is the “animal style”, which means extra sauce, grilled onions, and mustard. The best thing? you can order both burger and fries animal style!

Image source: https://www.bustle.com

“I’m from SoCal but I went to NorCal for College”

Contrary to popular belief, Californians never refer California as Cali. Instead, they separate the region by NorCal or North California which is basically San Francisco and other cities up north, and SoCal or Los Angeles, Orange County (where I live) and San Diego.

“I Had Like, a Super Long Day”

Do you remember Cher from Clueless? Then you would probably remember how she likes to use the word like in a sentence. Adding the word like in a sentence is so common in Los Angeles (well, probably California in general). I heard it’s originated by people from the Valley (the upper north area of Los Angeles) since the 80s but it’s like, becoming super common to be used casually these days!

So that’s it! 5 phrases that will make you sound like Californian. Is there such thing in your city / country? Do share in the comment box, and I’ll see you in the next “Stories from The West” posts 🙂

Just Like Heaven

Kemarin saya dan R pergi ke festival Just Like Heaven yang diadakan di Queen Mary Park Long Beach. Saya kepengen banget – bangetan pergi ke festival ini sejak pertama kali lihat daftar artisnya yang nggak lain adalah hampir semua band favorit saya jaman (lebih) muda dulu! Mulai dari Breakbot, Passion Pit, Phoenix, dan nama – nama yang saya nggak pernah kebayang bakal ada kesempatan nonton seperti Tennis dan She Wants Revenge. Ya ampun, rasanya nggak percaya, mana tempatnya cuma 20 menit dari rumah! Kalau kata R, inilah salah satu untungnya tinggal di Los Angeles sebagai penggemar konser macam kami (Iya, untungnya kami berdua sama – sama penggemar konser walau selera musik nggak 100% sama).

Ini dia poster festivalnya

Perjalanan saya nonton festival ini juga nggak mulus – mulus amat karena saya awalnya gagal mendapatkan tiket (Nggak sangka, banyak juga orang yang mau nonton band – band lawas tahun 2000an ini). Eh, nggak taunya si promotor nambahin tanggal dan saya berhasil mendapatkan tiket di tanggal tambahan (Jumat 3 Mei) dengan harga resmi padahal baru beli tiketnya H-2 sebelum acara alias hari Rabu kemarin. Hampir juga saya pergi sendiri karena si R hampir nggak dapat cuti, tapi akhirnya semua aman dan kami berdua berhasil pergi.

Karena satu dan lain hal kami gagal datang tepat waktu dan jadinya baru sampai lokasi jam 2 siang, jadi saya terpaksa lewatin penampilan Peter Bjorn and John, She Wants Revenge, Miami Horror sama RAC (huhu). Tapi untungnya (tetep aja untung haha) masih bisa nangkep Tennis, terus lanjut deh Breakbot DJ Set.

Walaupun nonton Breakbot siang – siang tapi ternyata seru juga, set nya singkat tapi ciamik bahkan dia sempet puterin Stardust – Music Sounds Better with You dan Daft Punk – One More Time yang sukses bikin orang – orang makin semangat disko. Penampilannya ditutup dengan lagu Baby I’m Yours yang dinyanyiin live sama Irfane. Seru!

Breakbot

Habis Breakbot, kami lanjut nonton band berikutnya – Passion Pit. Kami udah pernah nonton Passion Pit tahun lalu tapi tetap semangat ingin lihat, dan ternyata nonton Passion Pit di festival lebih seru karena panggung nya lebih besar dan penonton nya lebih rame. Setelah Passion Pit, lanjut nonton Miike Snow – ini juga saya semangat banget karena bertahun – tahun dengerin albumnya tapi nggak pernah kebayang bakal nonton live! penampilan Miike Snow bagus banget, apalagi mereka bawain lagu – lagu hits nya termasuk favorit saya, Animal.

Kami sempat istirahat dari panggung utama dan kembali ke panggung kecil untuk nonton Grizzly Bear sambil ngemil – ngemil, terus balik lagi ke panggung utama buat nonton MGMT yang ternyata penampilannya … biasa aja hehe. Mungkin kami sudah mulai capek, tapi emang sih rasanya penampilan MGMT kemarin kurang greget gitu. Akhirnya kami kabur ke panggung kecil lagi dan istirahat sebentar sebelum nunggu The Rapture. Ya ampun The Rapture ini diluar ekspektasi karena penampilannya keren banget! Walaupun nggak tau semua lagunya tapi kami (saya sih, R kebanyakan angguk2 kepala dan goyang pundak doang) dibuat nggak berenti dansa… serasa lagi aerobik. Yang saya suka dari nonton konser atau festival disini, kalau mau joged silakaann bebas aja nggak perlu malu – malu. Mau gaya apa juga, pokoknya nikmatin aja musik dan bebasin aja gerakan. Asik kaann :)))))

Nggak kerasa tau – tau matahari sudah terbenam, sudah jam 8 malam dan badan kami serasa mulai rontok. Yeah Yeah Yeahs lagi manggung di panggung utama tapi kami nggak kuat nonton lama – lama. Balik ke panggung kecil dengan niatan mau rileks sambil nonton Beach House tapi baru 2 lagu malah kebawa ngantuk (kok jompo banget ya hahaha). Akhirnya kami duduk manis sambil nungguin Phoenix yang jadi band penutup jam 10 malam. Jam 10 teng Phoenix mulai manggung, dan nggak pakai basa – basi langsung bawain lagu – lagu hits nya. Saya sudah pernah nonton Phoenix di Jakarta jaman dulu (tahun 2008 ya kalo nggak salah). Waktu itu mainnya di venue yang kecil banget. Di Aksara bukan sih kalau nggak salah? Dan nonton Phoenix di panggung besar rasanya jauh lebih seru, beda banget deh nuansanya.

Phoenix jadi penutup manis buat festival Just Like Heaven kemarin. Agak nyesel nggak bisa datang lebih awal tapi nggak nyesel sama sekali udah bujuk – bujuk si R supaya cuti. Dia juga seneng, dan kami langsung bikin rencana konser berikutnya mumpung masih terbawa euphoria.

Tentang 3 Hal

Tau nggak, akhir2 ini saya banyak banget ide buat blog terus semuanya mandek di draft nggak selesai2 karena pas lagi nulis adaaa aja gangguan. Jadi mari kita coba nulis post ini, dari HP, nggak pake mikir, supaya blog ini nggak sepi2 banget gitu 😉

Anyway, mau cerita beberapa hal yang kejadian atau saya lagi pikirin akhir – akhir ini.

Tentang Pengemudi Taksi Online

Akhir- akhir ini saya lagi sering naik taksi online. Disini ada 2, namanya Uber dan Lyft. Saya lebih sering pakai Lyft soalnya ada app yang bisa kasih cash back. Hampir setiap perjalanan saya ngobrol sama supirnya. Kebanyakan mereka yang ngajak ngomong duluan. Maklum, orang Amerika emang terkenal suka (banget) small talks dan ngajak ngomong orang. Awalnya saya canggung, lama – lama kebiasa. Lucu deh, dalam sekitar 10-15 menit perjalanan, saya bisa tau jumlah anak si supir, dulu kerja dimana, dan cerita – cerita unik lainnya. Ada orang yang habis rugi gila – gilaan karena trading bitcoin, ada yang pensiunan tapi bosen di rumah aja, ada imigran yang baru datang dari Timur Tengah dan sedang berusaha settle disini. Kayaknya saya udah pernah cerita beberapa kali tentang pengalaman saya dengan supir taksi online ini, jadi saya mau update aja kalau sekarang saya makin jago small talks! Yay! Hahahaha. Dengan senang hati saya bisa nanggepin mereka ngobrol, itung – itung bikin perjalanan saya makin gak berasa.

Tentang Buku Bacaan

Kalau kamu temenan sama saya di Goodreads, mungkin kamu lihat kalau saya punya reading challenge yang sedang saya jalanin. Tahun ini saya menantang diri saya untuk baca 24 buku – kurang lebih 2 buku sebulan, gitu kan. Eh nggak disangka, di bulan April ini sekarang saya udah baca 18 buku! Kayaknya bakal jauh melewati target nih 🙂 saya jadi sering baca gini soalnya rumah tetanggan sama perpustakaan kota, terus sekalian saya ingin belajar banyak soal budaya Amerika tempat saya tinggal sekarang. Makanya kalau lihat daftar buku yang saya baca, isinya kebanyakan buku Amerika yang setting nya di Amerika, plus buku – buku tentang Imigrasi / cerita Imigran disini.. beberapa buku favorit yang saya baca tahun ini adalah bukunya Michelle Obama – Becoming (aduh ini orang superrrrr inspiratif!!!), Jose Antonio Vargas – Dear America, dan kalo fiksi bukunya Rachel Joyce – The Music Shop. Buku pertama tentang hidupnya Michelle Obama dan sebenernya saya nggak suka baca biografi, tapi buku ini bagus banget! Saya suka gaya ceritanya dia dan belajar banyak dari hidupnya. Buku kedua tentang hidupnya Jose Antonio Vargas yang “terpaksa” jadi imigran gelap di Amerika. Masalah imigrasi memang cukup pelik disini, cerita Jose cuma 1 dari sekian banyak imigran gelap lainnya. Saya sempet baca beberapa buku soal imigran lainnya tapi dia juga sempet menyelipkan beberapa fakta soal kebijakan2 dan bikin saya makin aware sama isu imigrasi ini. Buku ketiga sih drama komedi ya.. tapi saya suka banget sama pemaparan tokoh2 nya dan juga karena ceritanya diselingi oleh musik2, sesuai judulnya. Kalau kamu, buku apa yang berkesan di tahun ini?

Tentang Jane The Virgin

Tanpa disadari saya udah berasa ngetik banyak juga nih (hore!) dan sebelum udahan saya mau cerita soal serial Jane The Virgin yang saya lagi tonton. Penting nggak penting, tapi baca terus yaa hehehe. Jadi saya kan udah ngikutin serial ini dari season 1. Ceritanya macem2, namanya juga telenovela. Penuh drama. Tapi inti nya Jane ini selalu terlibat cinta segitiga. Awalnya hidupnya baik2 aja, dia punya tunangan namanya Michael. Tiba2 dia nggak sengaja diinseminasi (panjang ceritanya) dan jadi hamil anaknya Rafael. Long story short, dia lahirin anaknya Rafael, nikah sama Michael, dan hidup bahagia sampai… Michael meninggal! Terus fast forward 4 tahun kemudian dia akhirnya berhasil menata hidupnya kembali, dan akhirnya menjalin hubungan sama Rafael, dan udah mau nikah. Tiba-tiba Michael hidup lagi!! Ternyata selama ini mereka semua “dikerjain” sama tokoh antagonis namanya Rose dan Michael nggak meninggal tapi cuma dibuat lupa ingatan dan selama ini juga menjalani hidup baru sebagai Jason di Montana yang hidupnya bedaaaa banget sama hidupnya Michael. Bayangin dong perasaan Jane pas tau?! Drama banget kan! Hahahaha. Saya punya pertanyaan iseng nih. Kalau jadi Jane, kamu bakal tetap sama Rafael atau Michael? Atau nggak 2-2 nya? 😛

Okelah sekian cerita random saya hari ini. Semoga post berikutnya nggak terlalu lama dan saya bisa kelarin drafts yang ampir bulukan hehe. Oh iya, selamat Paskah bagi yang merayakan dan selamat akhir pekan teman-teman! 🙂