Singin’ the Blues in a Red State

By Clara Nipper

I live in a place that believes on the 7th day, God created Wal-Mart, Chik Fil-A and Cracker Barrel and that Jesus hunts deer and drinks beer while wearing the American flag. It’s Oklahoma, but it’s not OK.

I long to flee and relocate of course, but in the meantime, I’m sitting here in a red Christian prison where the DA proudly advertises his faith; where physicians, yes, scientifically educated and board certified medical doctors have Christian verses prominently framed and mounted on their office walls; where I get well-meant bibles as gifts from co-workers and it’s nearly impossible to hire anyone from carpenter to electrician to plumber to landscaper without an unsolicited lecture on their missionary work.

Recently, in a roomful of peers who were making fun of parents choosing to name their child Wolfgang Amadeus, I casually commented, “well, they named him after Mozart.” What ensued was a Babel of dubious shock. My hair almost burst into flame. How do I get through the days without throwing up in my mouth every hour? I drink copious amounts of Dew. It burns away the bile.

The thing is, I grew up here. Before I knew any better, I fell in love with the place if not the people. There’s nothing as sweet and sacred as an early morning skate on the river and smelling either the spring wildflowers or the rotting leaves and woodsmoke and seeing the bunnies, ducks, lizards and turtles along the way.

We have one of the best library systems in the county. We have a glorious art deco downtown; and one of the most beautiful skylines in existence. Our Glow Haven peaches are the best on earth. And we do have ghettos of safety: certain areas of town are populated with My Kind. Plus I have deep roots here. All of my past and my memories are intact around me. I have established my garden as a certified wildlife habitat ( and a monarch butterfly way station ( I planted a tree when I married my partner/spouse. I have planted trees in memory of dead loved ones. I have scattered ashes. I just installed my own Little Free Library, the first and only one in Tulsa. ( I’m planning an apiary and an urban chicken coop. Not that I can’t do that anywhere, but I’m years into project development here.

I would like to get a t-shirt that reads, “Just another feminist, pro-choice, pro-GLBTQ, vegetarian, bisexual atheist introvert for animal rights” but instead, I settled for a shirt that proclaimed in black block letters on a pale gray background: “This is what an atheist looks like.”

So last weekend, I decided to wear the shirt Out. I prepared myself for abuse, brawling, gunfire, arrest and being burned at the stake.

And in local vernacular, I’ll be dogged if I did not make a thousand new friends that day. When I’m Out, something an introvert resists and dreads, I’m severely menacing and difficult to approach because I don’t want your blah blah to slow down my mission of efficiency. Well, all of that dissolved with the shirt. It was like a giant welcome mat on my boobs. Atheists materialized in unprecedented numbers and expressed enthusiastic agreement and support for me and my shirt everywhere I went. Apparently, and I don’t say this lightly or often, I am wrong. Wrong about Oklahoma. It is covertly liberal! I was in a happily exhausted stupor when I arrived back home. I folded the shirt tenderly and put it away, vowing never to wear it Out again unless I’ve taken Ecstasy first.

I take back all my contempt for this alleged red state and I amend my opinion.

Oklahoma is secretly progressive! And it’s home.


Clara Nipper writes fiction and When not writing, she makes desserts, and enlarges her certified wildlife habitat gardens. Her two murder mysteries (Femme Noir and Kiss of Noir) have been published by Bold Strokes Books and are available at their website: and on She is a contributor to local publications: This Land Press and the Tulsa Voice. Clara also skates for Tulsa Derby League under the derby name Cat Owta Hell. With two Rollercons, countless clinics and boot camps under her jamming belt, it is safe to say it’s derby until death for this Jammer Assassin. Outside the rink, she has had roller derby articles published in Five on Five, Hit and Miss, USARS Magazine, Lead Jammer Magazine-, Blood and Thunder and Currently, her works in progress are two coming of age novels and another Tulsa-based murder mystery entitled, Murder on the Rocks. Find Clara at her website, on Facebook, Twitter (@mindybendy), Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest, Linked In, Amazon Author Pages, Good Reads, Derby Social, Word Press and at the farmer’s market.,, and

Twitter: @mindybendy, Good Reads: claranipper

Instagram: claranipper, Pinterest:

Tumblr: Catowtahell, Linked In: Clara Nipper

Derby Social: Cat Owta Hell, Clara Nipper

Amazon Author Pages:,

7 Responses to “Singin’ the Blues in a Red State”

  1. 1 Devlyn April 30, 2015 at 9:10 AM

    I’m lucky that we don’t have any real ‘christian’ states except for some pockets of Queensland, but even they have progressed over the last decade. Although they still don’t have day light savings as many think their curtains would fade and the cows wouldn’t know when to come in. All up Australia is quite tolerant of each other and although we don’t have marriage equity we are rather multi cultural.


  2. 2 kdwilliamson April 30, 2015 at 10:13 AM

    Reblogged this on KDWilliamsonfiction and commented:
    This…THIS! Was a splendid read. I was born and bred in Arkansas. I am not an atheist but it would be nice to know that somebody there even these days has a opinion that is their own. Not something fed to them from birth.


  3. 3 sequimmorgayne April 30, 2015 at 11:35 AM

    Really enjoyed your blog. My folks, 8 sibs and me moved to OK after I graduated high school in southern CA. It wasn’t OK. I had a scholarship to UC Berkeley and my parents declared vehemently that I would not end up a dope smoker. Not yet 18 I had no choice but to take that long 2-car ride to Tulsa. We only stayed a few months before moving on to Indiana but all these years I have no love for OK. It baffles me that I still have family there. But after reading your blog I get the concept of home. Just one more thing, the irony of it is that I live in WA where I have a prescription for medical marijuana. Life is so fun. Thanks for the blog.


  4. 4 mebuchanan April 30, 2015 at 3:36 PM

    Just like your neighboring state of Arkansas, OK tends to have a lot of closeted liberals. If they would all get out & vote we might have two more blue states.


  5. 5 dave pederson May 1, 2015 at 9:24 AM

    great blog, very well written. Hopefully the times they are a changin’, if even at a snail’s pace.


  6. 6 S.A. May 1, 2015 at 10:01 AM

    Great blog, made me laugh! I live in a more openly liberal place, so haven’t encountered everything you mention. However, it’s refreshing to know that even in the seemingly staunches Red areas, enclaves of liberals and progressives are making headway. Thanks for the lovely description of what makes OK “home” to you – at the end of the day, those things are extremely important.


  7. 7 Lee Lynch May 1, 2015 at 3:47 PM

    I’m so impressed by your blog and will eagerly watch for more. Great job, Clara!


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