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How to plan for an unpredictable year


Resolutions, plans, goals, hopes, dreams - the new year offers a chance for many of us to reset and sketch out the months ahead, but how to do that in a time of pandemic uncertainty?

ENRIQUE ESTRADA: All my career since I start working in the restaurant was the idea to open a restaurant, and it's part of our dreams, me and my wife, to open our own place.

PERALTA: Enrique and Consuelo Estrada did open their own place, La Catrina, a Mexican fusion restaurant in Croton-on-Hudson, N.Y., and they opened just as this latest wave of COVID threw them another curveball.

CONSUELO ESTRADA: It's been a little bit rough. Right now, the rules - they start to get more severe, so people are a little bit scared. We don't know what's going to happen yet.

PERALTA: We asked the Estradas and others, how can you plan for a new year that's likely going to be unpredictable?

AXEL EPIE: I will be getting married. I think it's approximately 18 days after my graduation, so it should be an exciting time for both myself and my family to look forward to.

PERALTA: Axel Epie is a fourth-year medical student in New York City.

EPIE: It kind of plays a little bit with our psyche, seeing that there are a lot of cases spiking again, particularly, I think for both of us - we have family coming from abroad. My parents are from Gabon, Cameroon in Central Africa, respectively. And with this pandemic - I mean, a day, two days, three days - things change really fast, much less in five, six months when the wedding is slated to happen. That's kind of the biggest source of anxiety.

BRYAN SCHECKEL: My name is Bryan Scheckel. I live in Des Moines, Iowa. I'm a touring production manager for concerts - Childish Gambino and A$AP Rocky and then Passion Pit. I've done - I've got a very long list.

PERALTA: When the pandemic first silenced the live music scene, Scheckel took a job as a farmhand. Eventually, finally, bands got moving again, venues reopened, and the 2022 calendar started filling up fast.

SCHECKEL: People are maybe a little not so sure anymore, but, I mean, I think there is sort of professionally that sort of expectation in the background that - buckle up, it's going to be the most intense year we've ever had, not only with just the number of things on the books, but all the things that sort of come with it from my perspective, where it's like, well, you know, changing rules and requirements.


PERALTA: What we heard again and again - making plans for this year will mean striking a balance between pragmatism and optimism.

ESTRADA: We have to survive. This - we don't have an option, you know? We have to just work hard and just do it.

ESTRADA: I think we can survive, at least with the takeout. We have the support from...

ESTRADA: The community.

ESTRADA: ...From the community, from our employees, and it's part of the family now. Everybody has to support each other. Right now, we don't do too many business every single day, but every people who came to the restaurant leave happy. And that's our hope.

EPIE: We've kind of had a bunch of ups and downs. We've spent some time apart. And I'd say in the context of everything that's going on in the world right now, I think it's actually kind of brought us closer, given that a lot of people are having to be isolated. Some people have to be isolated alone and just be grateful that we're here and we have somebody to spend all this time with - somebody who listens to us, somebody who wants to take care of us, somebody who's willing to put themselves first just for the sake of the other's well-being.


SCHECKEL: I think there is definitely sort of a new tolerance for uncertainty. In order to make it work, we do need to have a little more grace and come to an understanding amongst ourselves that it's not always going to be as in our control as we're used to. And maybe that's OK.


PERALTA: We heard there from Bryan Scheckel, Axel Epie and Enrique and Consuelo Estrada.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.
Ian (pronounced "yahn") Stewart is a producer and editor for Weekend Edition and Up First.