For 26 days now I have been in quarantine, staying home except for essential trips to the grocery store, post office, restaurant parking lots and, on one occasion, Twin Liquors.
My people and I are healthy. A cousin is a nurse in Columbus, Ohio. So far she is coronavirus-free, but her ears are chapped from constantly wearing masks. Another relative has been laid off. My grandmother, many years into her dementia diagnosis, is in a nursing home that is closed to visitors but otherwise safe.
Like everyone else, I've been mourning canceled events—a college friend's visit from London, a months-old reservation at Hamilton Pool, a party to celebrate a dog's baptism—and life before the pandemic. Weirdly, I miss wearing shoes.
I'm lucky to be only mildly inconvenienced, rather than afflicted or grieving or broke, and doubly lucky to have friends who take quarantine activities seriously.
Initially, I filled my planner with the basics. A virtual happy hour, which prompted the Twin Liquors trip. Some long phone calls with friends. Movie nights with my roommate featuring "9 to 5," "First Wives Club" and "Working Girl."
One Saturday morning I successfully wrangled my parents and siblings onto a FaceTime call. After explaining to my dad what "FT" means, we then moved on to explore effects. Even with animated shark faces, it was soothing to see them through the screen.
Then the events diversified.
One friend, a Ph.D. student, generously uses her University of Texas email address to underwrite weekly Zoom meetings. (After the first 40 minutes, charges apply.) With her screen shared to a New York Times crossword puzzle, she guides us through the clues. So far, it takes six to eight of us 45 minutes to complete a Saturday.
That same friend is known for her PowerPoint parties. Before the pandemic, she and her housemates hosted a few: about 12 people would prepare three- to five-minute PowerPoints on a topic of their choosing and present to the group. Go over four minutes and you have to take a sip. Go over five and you chug. A short Q&A follows each presenter.
Some past PowerPoints include "Pandas in Sino-American relations," "A close reading: The New York Times Magazine Gwyneth Paltrow cover story" and "Kristen Stewart's Journey to Queerness: A Timeline."
I attended PPPI and PPPII. The latest iteration is this Saturday: QPPP. "Zoom link forthcoming," promises the event description on Facebook.
All of this to say, I've been asked by my editor to report on how people fortunate enough to have free time during this pandemic are spending it. Let me know what's on your agenda at email@example.com.
In the meantime, I'll be working on my PowerPoint.
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Austin FC couldn't find the stamina to fight off a 2-0 loss against LAFC for their inaugural match on Saturday.
The match, which saw No. 21 Austin FC go head-to-head with No. 2 LAFC in Los Angeles, was broadcast nationally on FOX and FOX Deportes.
Salute the support. 👏
It's only the beginning for @AustinFC. pic.twitter.com/TduorqYr2y
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) April 18, 2021
Eleven players took the stage as Austin FC players for the first time, with five starters making their MLS debut. "Ringleader" Alex Ring took the captain's armband and wore it well. The defensive midfielder could be seen leading his teammates through their first ever match, but it wasn't enough to stage an Austin takeover in LA.
In the signature style of Head Coach Josh Wolff, the team played with quickness and intensity, nearly connecting on several fast breaks. It was harder for them to stay in front, however, something that Wolff credits with quick decision making and a tough LAFC defense.
"We have a quick attacking team, but I think when you make quick attacks and it fizzles it's just about some decision making," Wolff said. "Are we in position to finish attacks? If not, can we reestablish our attack and get stuff better?"
The club was given some generous breaks from No. 2 LAFC, who had one or both of their star DPs out for the half. While forward Diego Rossi is out for the entire match due to a hamstring injury, Carlos Vela was accidentally pulled too soon on what turned out to be a miscommunication.
"He gave us the sign that he needed to come off," LAFC Head Coach Bob Bradley said on broadcast. "I can't say more than maybe it's my fault."
LA pulled some dramatics and slowly gained more possession throughout the half, but ATXFC's defense wasn't initially as shaky as it seemed in preseason. Jhohan Romana has pulled his weight in getting the ball out of goal, and a 34-year old Matt Besler held his own in center back.
As the second half commenced, however, it became clear that LAFC had the advantage over Austin's first major league team.
Goalkeeper Brad Stuver had his work cut out for him, fending off 24 shot attempts, 11 of which were on goal. He didn't have much time to prepare, either: in the first 30 seconds of play, Stuver had already made a save to keep the match 0-0.
LAFC finally connected in the 61st minute of play as Corey Baird shot one into the bottom right corner. The team capitalized off their momentum and put one past Stuver a second time, drawing roars of approval from the LAFC crowd.
While some last-minute attempts from Jon Gallagher and others were made, Austin FC didn't have the endurance to bring a tie. After seven additional minutes of stoppage time, the club lost their first match 2-0.
While the scoreboard tells one story, Wolff said that the team did well considering the skill of LAFC and the pressure of their club debut.
"We've got to be realistic," Wolff said. "This is the first time this organization has been in front of TV with an opportunity to show itself and I think there were some promising moments. And we're going to maximize those and continue to try to develop those, but there's lots to build on."
The team may have lost, but it still won the support of thousands of Verde fans, dozens of which made it to watch their team's first match. When Stuver and the team made it to bthe stadium, Los Verdes fans were already there to show support, and Stuver said his wife saw the same back in Austin.
"The moment that we pulled into the stadium, we saw Black and Verde fans cheering us on as we got to the stadium," Stuver said. "During warm up, you can just look around and see different groups sitting in different sections of the stadium and it's just truly amazing to see the support in our first game. We know that we want to give the fans everything, because this we play for the city and we play for them."