• Kathleen Cassen Mickelson

A New Year, a New Decade

Updated: Jan 29

Happy 2020, everyone.

Our Airbnb on Frenchmen Street in New Orleans.

I spent New Year’s Eve in New Orleans with friends. We ate food that we don’t usually eat (grits, crawdads, pralines, beignets), listened to a wide variety of music (zydeco, blues, jazz, reggae), saw the Sugar Bowl Parade, walked until our feet hurt. As a Minnesota girl, it was weird to be in a place that didn’t have frozen snow crunching beneath car tires when we headed out for New Year’s Eve revelry. I didn’t have to blow on my fingers to warm them. It didn’t feel quite right.

View from our window.

New Year’s is usually a time when I love to think about the past year, including whatever firsts and lasts I experienced and what the coming year might look like. I become introspective, quiet. New Year’s Eve in New Orleans was a stay-in-the-moment celebration as we gulped down whatever New Orleans had to offer. I danced on the edge of my comfort zone by not being home during a holiday even though I’ve traveled all over the world at other times of the year.

The park across the street from our Airbnb.

It also didn’t feel right on New Year’s Day when the four of us were at the airport in New Orleans waiting for our flight home to Minnesota. I felt out-of-time somehow, suspended in a different place where my whole life was in my backpack when I should have in my own dining room brunching and drinking mimosas to welcome in the new year. Yet I – we – were right where we were supposed to be: traveling, observing, learning. And talking to new people, like our Lyft driver who shared her experiences living through Hurricane Katrina as she drove us to the airport.

Coffee on our Airbnb balcony.

It was good to get out of my own head through travel. Good to be with throngs of people in a warm place with plenty of attitude, to connect my part of the country with another. That I was doing something new felt exactly like how the old decade was supposed to end, a decade in which I turned 60 and can feel time speeding up too much.


I don’t care for New Year’s resolutions but I do have the strong feeling that embracing more of whatever I’m unfamiliar with is the only way to move forward. Celebrating the New Year in a place so very different from home is a precursor for choosing other new paths this year.

As writers and artists, that’s exactly what must happen. New paths to new work and new relationships. That sounds like a great plan.


Chess game on the sidewalk near the French Market.
Wet cobblestone street near Jackson Square.
The French Market all decked out for the holidays.
A special unicorn pulls a carriage.
New Orleans cable car.
Musicians squished into the corner at the Apple Barrel on Frenchmen Street.
Food vendor at the French Market.
City of New Orleans.
Jester near the riverfront.
Float in the Sugar Bowl Parade.
Kermit Ruffins at the Blue Nile on Frenchmen Street on New Year’s Eve.


All photos shot on an iPhone by kcmickelson 2019.


#NOLA #NewYear2020 #FrenchQuarter #KermitRuffins #oneminnesotawriter #NewOrleans #FrenchmenStreet

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