Living in “special” states

From What do you do to cope living in a state as backwards as Indiana? I live in KY and am about at my wits end!

Escape. Did I mention I’m super excited to be moving to Seattle in a couple weeks?

Though seriously, I sympathize. Sometimes it can be a little maddening living somewhere that’s the antithesis of your political, religious, and moral views. I think one way to stay sane is to find the other rare individuals who are suffering with you. I did it by starting my own atheist student group – maybe you could find something similar, or start your own.

Other than that…I’m not sure what to say. The internet is certainly your friend – a virtual community is better than none at all.

If you’re living somewhere that tends to drive you crazy, how do you stay sane?


  1. says

    Blog! Like you say a virtual community is better than none. And there’s a real person behind every blogger and commenter. I’ve found a lot of new friends that way.

  2. Jen (but not the blogger Jen) says

    Today was the federal election in Australia and I live in one of the safest conservative seats in my state. I stay sane by hoping that my country will become more socially progressive as the older generations die off. I know that sounds harsh, but it’s true; if you’re under 30 in Australia, neither of the two main political parties even pretends to be representing you.

  3. says

    Living in New York wouldn’t be so bad if the cost of living wasn’t so goddamn high. As I’ve stated before, I live on Long Island, the apex of suburbia. Nassau and Suffolk counties have a population of nearly three million, and that number balloons to almost eight million if you include Kings and Queens counties. Eight million people on an island 118 miles long and 25 miles at its widest point. A friend of mine, his uncle lives in Muttontown (very affluent area), and his property taxes are more than my annual salary. If I made what I currently make somewhere else, I’d be able to survive perfectly fine on my own. On Long Island, you’re lucky to find a 1BR apartment for under $1000, and that’s a hole in the wall if you do. Gas has hovered around $2.799/gal for 87 octane. Car insurance is some of the highest in the country. Basically, I’m 27 years old and I can’t afford to move out because the cost of living is just insane.So what do I do? Barely tolerate it. Find releases where and whenever I possibly can. Would I love to GTFO and never come back? Yes and no. Despite how much I hate it here because of the cost of living, the area is absolutely gorgeous. The north shore is full of coves, inlets, and deep water. The south shore has long sandy beaches and rough water. I want to leave because I just can’t afford to live here. Long Island has been suffering from “Brain Drain” for a long time. People in my age range can’t afford to live here, so we leave.

  4. says

    I also agree that blogging is a great outlet – I live in what is considered to be the most conservative county in Minnesota (Michelle Bachmann is our US rep – that should explain it all). Universities are also a great place to find allies, but now that I’ve graduated, my virtual community is mostly what keeps me sane.

  5. says

    I don’t want to be buzzkill but…free thinkers will typically in the minority wherever they go. Sure, some places are less onerous than others but it’s important to wrap your mind around the fact that you will probably be in the minority wherever you go. http://laughinginpurgatory.blo

  6. says

    I agree that you’ll be a minority wherever you go, but there are definitely huge differences between states when it comes to tolerance and acceptance of minority world views. I’ve lived in North Dakota, Arizona…and now Oregon. If I still lived in either of the previous two states, I’d probably still be “closeted.” I definitely feel less hostility toward my world view here in Portland than anywhere else I’ve lived.

  7. says

    Go on and look for skeptical groups (or atheist/freethought) groups and come to the meetings. We have active groups in both Louisville and Lexington that I am aware of, and I would not be surprised to find others. If the drive is a bit much, join a network like Atheist Nexus and see if there are like minded people in your area.

  8. Linda W. says

    Gawd, I can’t tell you how this is music to my ears. I live in a small town in northern(but really northern, by Oregon) California. Its an area filled with small agricultural towns, where the meth flows free, the kids are all below average,and Jesus shows up on pizza. Our congressman actually made countdown’s worst person in the world last year. I have allowed myself to become withdrawn and reading this, I think I should just start getting more active again. The world needs to know we’re there right?

  9. Melissa says

    I live in Georgia and it’s hard not to slap someone around you when they make some kind of religious/political comment. I’ve been lucky enough to find a group of friends who have the same views as me. I don’t know what I’d do without them!

  10. Azkyroth says

    I guess I should be grateful I’m only surrounded by idiots who voted for Prop 8 at more than a 50%rate, drive like freakin’ zombies, and shiver ostentatiously and put on sweaters every time the temperature dips below 85 degrees.

  11. says

    Southern Georgia checking in. How do I stay sane? By yelling at my just-slightly-to-the-right-of-Darth-Vader-Blue-Dog Congressman on Twitter.And by looking forward to the day I can escape to Canada. Or Finalnd. Or something.

  12. says

    What makes you think I’m still sane?I wish I was joking there, but I’m not. I’ve spent the past 20 months at Ft. Polk, I’m a week and a half away from getting out (or perhaps longer; the way things have been going I wouldn’t be surprised if I was kept here for a couple more weeks), and I’m almost at the breaking point. No exaggeration, I am so close to doing something I’ll regret.How bad is this place? Let me put it this way: in all likelihood when I leave I’ll be moving in with my mother in Iowa, and that will be an improvement. Cedar Rapids is a step up from Ft. Polk in every conceivable way, from the people to the shops to the culture to everything.The only way I can keep sane and keep my anger in check is to avoid all contact with people here. Sort of the opposite of what you advocate, Jen.

  13. Azkyroth says

    My suggestion to your friend in Kentucky would be to go into the fruit preserves business selling a local brand called “Kentucky Jelly” and snicker under his/her breath.

  14. Skyhawk says

    Well said! I also come from Australia, quite possibly your state too. I hated having to vote today with freedom, not financial security, as my main concern because there is so much censorship and violation of rights being proposed by many parties. Luckily, it seems most of the younger demographic that you mentioned agrees that none of their ‘family friendly’ policies represent what they want for their families, so perhaps you’re right and change will come.

  15. says

    The funny part is that Indiana isn’t that red of a state. Don’t forget that we went for Obama in 08 (mostly because of Indy, Bloomington, Terre Haute and the Chicago suburbs). We are more purple than anything. Yes, we have way too many fundies but most of the Christians here are nominal Catholics or Mainline Christians. We are nowhere near as bad as the Deep Deep South. This place could be a lot worse.

  16. says

    As a native of Kentucky, I have found it best not to engage the other locals in anything. Ever. It’s just common sense. Also, do something dramatic like give yourself a mohawk or funky make-up. If you look like you’re rebelling against the establishment most of the time they’ll steer clear of you or make some comment about ‘that there new-fangled rock music ruining america’ and hot topic being a store for satanic worship. It’s fun to dress up and scare the locals. But seriously, not all towns in Kentucky are bad. The cities with the bigger universities are actually fairly diverse in culture and thought.

  17. Alec says

    Kentucky isn’t that bad.It’s worse. Though living on campus in Richmond has its perks, much better than my hometown where if your not Christian, your a terrorist.

  18. says

    I myself and originally from Maryland myself but Loving Pittsburgh. From what I see and do in Pittsburgh, it is a very diverse and interesting culture here. You have all kinds of races, gender or gender identities, religion, and basically just about any and all social, professional or whatnot which is what makes Pittsburgh so great. I am looking at Pittsburgh from the view of being a Transgendered woman out and about on the town. Nobody bothers me unless they are interested in conversation or whatever in a good way. Those whom don’t like me or wanna understand a girl like me pretty much leaves me alone. Once in a while I get rude or derogatory comment from some person usually a homophobe man. Life goes on but I enjoy it to the fullest and that is all I can do. Now if I was in my Hometown in Maryland I would probably literally get killed. So in this case I would say the town’s general attitude can make a difference for a lot of people.

  19. jyfna says

    Southwest Missouri here. Serious bible belt mentality here. Yeah, Springfield is a college town, but have to remember one of the biggest is Evangel Univ. Also the home of the AG church is here. There is hope though. has a great group from Springfield, MSU has several non-theist groups along with FSM, and most exciting of all, Skepticon is being held here this year (yes, I’m registered). As for me, I check in on Jen and Hemant’s blogs daily. They always help.

  20. Keith says

    I’m from Masssachusetts, but I’ve been living in Texas for 8 years, give or take. It was a heck of a culture shock at first. I stay sane by remembering I come from a place that legalized same sex marriage and also has the Red Sox. That’s a lot to be happy about. And by living in Houston. Despite the megachurches every 10 feet or so, the city proper is actually a pretty open-minded, swingin’ sort of place. Great food, too. Of course, I live in the suburbs (which are a little more…constricting), since living “outside the loop” is a lot cheaper, but a 20 minute drive isn’t much to complain about. And on I-45 going in to town, there’s a storage silo for a soil company (I believe it’s called His Soil Technologies or something…Seriously. Holy Dirt, Batman!) with “Is Jesus Your Lord?” painted on it in huge letters, so every time my wife and I go downtown, we pass it and say “Nope” to each other, shaking our heads thoughtfully. It’s a little affirmation that makes me smile. Having a wife who’s even more passionate and vocal about things than I am really helps, too. I recommend it.

  21. says

    CRAP, I just did the very simple math and I’ve lived in Seattle for 23 years. that sounds like such a long time. However, during those 23 years, I rented out my house and move to Ohio for 18 months. So technically I’ve lived here 23 yrs….that has been enough time for everything to grow more crowded, grow up around us and for me to grow tired of driving in the traffic. I’m originally from Idaho and I think I knew the second my head crowned that I was ‘outta there’ in more ways than the obvious. So let’s fast forward to now….I’m married to a Seattle native, one of only a handful, and we are ditching it all to move to Hawaii. He’s up for an adventure and I’m a gypsy at heart. All in all I’ve been very fortunate to live where I do,what with our progressive northwest ways and ideals, you will feel right at home. By the way, we’d love to take you out for a beer before we leave and to welcome you to Seattle.

  22. Linda W. says

    I just ordered a T-Shirt from “The Girl With the Dragon Tatoo” – Armageddon was Yesterday — Today We Have a Serious Problem. I’m going to wear it alllll the time.

  23. Dustin says

    Small World: I was born in Fort Polk, and recently went back to visit. Man, it was so depressing, even to my mother, who pointed out how much stuff wasn’t there anymore.

  24. Rbray18 says

    i live in Oklahoma and if i could get away i would,i’d rather live in oh say hell if it were real then here,but maybe i’m just being overly dramatic but this place is bad from my point of view.the local news channels deny global warming,hate any non bush president.and lie lie lie like it’s going outta style.oh stay sane?was born in the wrong state for that sorry :D

  25. Valh587 says

    Another vote for the internet! My husband and I realized that we were atheists while living on the Indiana/Kentucky border, and there sure as heck isn’t anyone else to talk to around here. The internet has seriously saved our sanity. In addition, we were willing to drive an hour and a half once a month to Cincinnati to meet up with the awesome group of atheists there. It was only once a month, but it helped us out a lot. Now we’re escaping to Seattle!

  26. closeted and miserable says

    Knoxhell TN has to be one of the worst places. It is national headquarters of Southern Baptist Association. These folks are so ignorant that they consider themselves tolerant of diversity if they know someone who is catholic. Their minds wouldn’t be able to comprehend anything beyond that. How do I stay sane? I don’t really. I think every single day of the joy i will feel when I see knoxhell in the rear view mirror and know that i never need to come back.

  27. says

    Check the internet for groups in your area. I was on Atheist Nexus a little over a year ago and found a sub-group for Hawaii (Where I live now. Let me tell you, I spent 5 years in Kentucky, and I feel your pain!). Someone there suggested Well there was no meetup group in Hawaii, but a small amount of interest, so I created one! Our group will be 1 year old next month. We have 138 members, have had 23 meetups, and have the Executive Directer of the Secular Coalition for America coming to speak to us in a couple weeks. Therefore I tell you if you don’t know of a place for like-minded individuals, “Build it, and they will come!” -RandyHawaii Secular Society Facebook page

  28. nomajic says

    Just a thought, but doesn’t defending your views to those who hold opposing views on a regular basis sharpen one’s critical thinking skills and place higher requirements on the articulation of these views? Consider the alternative: I can recall the conversation that made me run screaming from Berkeley. Sitting in a group of 8 graduate degreed people, one made the statement to the effect that reason people shouldn’t eat GMO foods because they were all “poisonous”. The others all nodded their heads in agreement. I was the only one who questioned her…seriously. (For the record, I am not a supporter of the unrestricted creation or private ownership of GMOs for a multitude of reasons, but that they are “poison” is not among them. ;-))

  29. says

    I made the move *from* my home State of Indiana to … sit down for this … IOWA!Truthfully, what I love about both states is the down-home feel of practically everyone you meet. Most people will do anything for you, return something valuable you misplaced, or just ask how you’re doing and genuinely care. There is no shortage of true friends…unless you’re a complete ass. I’m just a half-ass.However, now that I’m a born-again Atheist, I find myself short of kindred spirits. Few people condemn by beliefs, but most are bewildered that I don’t believe in something as obvious as God! Here’s how I handle it:#1 – I involve myself in local groups: a running group, a Latin dance group, professional network groups, arts groups, the local music scene…all of which tend to be more focused on goals, self-improvement, community service, and entertainment that tends to be religion free, pro-active, and free-thinking.#2 – I network online to supplement real-world connections. I have only just discovered Meetup & highly recommend it!#3 – I maintain friendships of all stripes (even with the deeply religious) and nationalities. The Latin Dance group is filled with beautiful persons from several Latin American countries who bring a fresh breath of humanity to my overly stifled & paranoid white State. And my friendships with believers of all nonsense reminds me that we are first of all human, second religious/irreligious, and that friendship is the foundation for productive dialogue so lacking in internet “debates” over ideological differences.#4 – I just try to be my Midwestern, fun-loving, Hoosier-Hawkeye self & accept people for who they are…religion and all…and I find they do the same.

  30. Nolano says

    I’m not a super frequent reader. But am psyched to learn that very soon you’ll be on my side of the country. Come down to Eugene sometime. PZ did graduate school here, it’s pretty chill.

  31. JM says

    Come to Pittsburgh, PA. It’s got just about anything and anyone you’re looking for and is affordable. The suburbs are more conservative; the city is pretty liberal (as they understand it — no Greens in office) but so varied ethnically that you can take your pick. I’m a transplant and I’ve become quite happy here.

  32. says

    I live terrifyingly close to the Creation “Museum” and I certainly feel that I just don’t belong here. It sometimes seems like everyone is Catholic, “pro-life”, and Republican. It can be hard. I have some friends who came here from San Diego who I can kvetch with, and friends on Facebook from before I came here, and I have my family. If it weren’t for family I meet feel quite isolated. My wife also works with a lot of people who aren’t like most in the area, so we can socialize with them. And I like to remember that while we have the Creation “Museum”, we also have a science museum, a world class zoo, and an atheist group who came up with enough money to put up a billboard (until threats directed against the property owner forced it to come down). I don’t know any of those atheists, but it’s nice to know they exist.

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