Away from home to visit home to miss home

“Home is where the heart is.”

“Home is where I am with you.”

The phrases and song lyrics go on and on. But at some point in our lives, we all call a place “home” long enough that it’s hard to imagine anywhere else being home – no matter who’s with us or where we’re going.

For me, this is Indiana.

Just over a year ago I moved away from Indiana for the first time in my life, Texas bound. It was tough, sure. But I had my wife-to-be and unborn son both at my side. In short – I had some wonderful traveling partners and motivations to help me call a new place “home” for the first time.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago, and I found myself returning to Indiana for the first time since our move a year ago. To say the sensations I felt upon returning were unexpected or strange would be an understatement. I’m going to plagiarize my wife and steal her line, “When we met, it felt like we picked up in the middle of a conversation we had started years before.” Returning to Indiana felt largely the same. It was like I hadn’t missed a beat.

This little dude handled two eight-hour days like a champ. (I cried more than he did.)

Adorable little Nashville felt the same. Bloomington was bigger, but still the same as we left it. And most of all, my family was still there, waiting for us to arrive with our adorable little boy. It was just perfect.

Don’t ever change, Nashville.

While we initially planned on spending numerous days in Bloomington, visiting our old haunts and eating our favorite foods, we wound up spending more time in Nashville – the town I grew up in. Getting to play tourist for several days and wander from shop to shop helped me see Nashville with new eyes. A town I once dubbed “boring” or “touristy” was now really fun and charming. (It’s still touristy. Sorry, Nashville, you can’t shake that title.)

And we still made our way to Bloomington for a few solid trips of eating, visiting with old (once-in-a-lifetime) friends, and more eating. Did I mention the eating?

Seriously, the Blarney Puffballs at the Irish Lion are the bomb.

But then in what felt like a week, we found ourselves at the end of our two-week stay; it was time to head back to our home in Texas. Even before we left to visit Indiana I found myself dreading, fearing this moment. How would it feel to leave Indiana? What if I couldn’t do it? Would Texas no longer feel like home after visiting Indiana again?

Of course, things went great and without a hitch. We’re all safely back in Texas, right at home. But, I’ve come to some pretty amazing realizations. For starters, nobody ever said you have to have one home. Texas IS my home, but Indiana will always be my home too. Consider it a vacation house.

Next, leaving really does get easier each time. And I don’t mean this in a bad way. We all like to think we have loved ones that would wait forever to see us again. Seeing this in action affirms that thought, and makes leaving a little easier, as you know they’ll be there when you come back. And in the meantime, we can be spoiled by video calls and the like.

Finally, I’ve realized home isn’t just a place, person, or people – it’s a feeling we get when we find ourselves in a place, with the people we love.



With you, every day is like the first day

When I was a kid, I always dreamed of being an archaeologist.

I didn’t know about bills, taxes, responsibilities, or any of that adult nonsense. I just knew I wanted to go on adventures and dig up mummies. Like most childhood dreams, that one was beaten down by reality and faded away. But that dream has recently returned to me, in a way.

Now that Raylan is seven months old – don’t ask me where the time went – he’s starting to really take notice of things. By things, I mean everything.

I see cars driving down the street. He sees a giant mythical titan of metal and noise.

I see a spot on the wall that needs to be painted. He sees entertainment for the next five minutes.

I see a ceiling fan that’s struggling to keep me cool. He sees himself getting dizzy and laughing for thirty seconds.

Everything is an absolute wonder to behold in his eyes. And it’s incredible.

While he can’t quite vocalize his thoughts yet, his giant round eyes and joyous squealing sounds tell me he’s loving every second of life. It’s all so new and exciting to him, so how he could not love it? And let’s not forget his kick-ass mom, who makes him laugh by simply looking at him.

Watching Raylan’s little growing brain blossom into a curious mind full of joy and excitement has reminded me of the adventure we all so often take for granted – life.

Just as Raylan is experiencing life for the first time, I too feel as if I’m seeing the world with new eyes, thanks to him.

Walking into my favorite coffee shop with him in my arms and seeing his eyes light up reminded me why I love going there in the first place. Or taking a bite of a burger, as I’ve done so many times in my life, and watching his little hands reach for it as he smiles, reminds me of the moment I fell in love with that food.

He may only be seven months old, but he’s had the most monumental impact in my life. I can’t even begin to fathom where the next seven months will take us, let alone the next seven years.

Tomorrow, I want you to wake up and see everything as if it’s the first time you’re seeing it. Sip your favorite beer and remember why you like it in the first place. Go and hug your favorite person and remind yourself of the moment you knew you loved them. (Just try not to squeal in their ear.)

Nine months in nine minutes

Nine months – a new record for me. No, I didn’t give up beer for nine months. Are you people mad? I haven’t posted anything in nine months. Now, before you grab your pitchfork and start getting the mob together, let me explain.

I’ve been lazy.

Sorry, that was the best excuse I could come up with. But I jest. Well, kind of. These past nine months have been absolutely insane. Let’s recap the whole thing in a brief list that does none of it justice – Valerie and I moved, we got married, we moved into our first house, had a baby, and entered a new chapter of our lives. Oh, I also left my job of three years.

Phew. Let me catch my breath.

Okay, where were we? Right, life changes. As many of you know, I left Indiana and the Midwest last August. It was much harder than I thought it would be. While I called Indiana home for more than 20 years, I never expected I would have such a hard time saying goodbye to it. Granted, Indiana – Bloomington, in particular – gave me many of the best memories of my life:

I learned to ride a bike in Indiana. I went to school in Indiana. I fell in love with writing in Indiana. I met the woman I would go on to marry and start a family with in Indiana. I worked my first job ever in Indiana. I drank my first beer in Indiana. I made the greatest friendships in Indiana. In short – Indiana made me.

All of that being said, the move from Indiana was made sweeter knowing we had numerous major events before us, the first of which was moving into our first house.

Shortly after our move to Texas, we high-tailed it from one town to the next, settling down in a cute little town, not very far from the awesomely weird Austin. We moved into our first house, leaving apartment living behind us. Owning a house has been a learning experience like no other, but we’ve loved every minute of it. Even those minutes composed of, “WTF is that sound and why is there water in the entryway?” Which brings me to our next stop on the “John and Valerie blow through all of life’s major milestones in six months 2016 tour.”

In September Valerie and I got married. It was a beautiful ceremony complete with beautiful people that mean the world to us. Friends and family from both ends of the country apparently love us enough to travel to Texas for us. To see a room filled with people from thousands of miles away was the most humbling experience.

Of course, the ceremony didn’t go completely as planned. But what would a wedding be if it didn’t have some speed bumps? We were originally going to get married outside, underneath a big, beautiful tree. Unfortunately, this is Texas and it never cools down. Fortunately, Valerie loves me enough that she didn’t want to see me and the groomsmen sweating to death, so she moved things inside that afternoon. While we missed the tree, the indoor ceremony was perfect. Did I mention Valerie walked down the aisle to the theme song from Lord of the Rings? Oh, how I love that girl.

Not even three months after we got married, our unborn little dude decided due dates were a bunch of crap and came early. On December 6, at approximately 2:05PM, we welcomed Raylan to the world. He was close to eight pounds and big for being early, but I couldn’t get over how small he was. He was perfect then and he’s perfect now – only bigger. And his poop smells really weird. I miss those scentless newborn poops.

P.S. Non-parents, see what kind of weird things you have to look forward to?

Everything they tell you about parenting is probably true. Emphasis on probably. If you thought owning your first house would be a learning experience, let me tell you about parenting – it’s a doozy. Raylan was born three months ago, during which time I’ve gotten about 10 hours of sleep in total. I’m not even sure my keyboard is plugged in.

Kidding aside, parenting has been a life-changing experience like no other, and we’re only getting started. There have been so many ups, and only some downs (Read: No sleep, cranky parents, and plenty of late-night scares). While I’ve only been a student of parenting for a few months, I feel it’s taught me more than any other experience in my life. I look forward to the many challenges before us, and most of all, I look forward to watching our little goofball grow into a big goofball like his dad.

Lastly, I recently left my job with a publishing company after three years. Like all things, there were highs and lows. But, that job gave me something I could never put a price on: experience. As someone hoping to make it in the world as a writer, experience was the one thing I couldn’t get after college. This company took a chance on me, which opened numerous doors, taught me a lot about writing and myself, and ultimately led me to my new awesome job at a marketing firm in Austin. Any nervousness about starting my new job is easily outweighed by my excitement. To any of you companies out there who are reading this – take a chance on the little guy. They just might surprise you.

That wraps up our nine-month tour of insanity. This all probably seems a bit rushed, and that’s because it is. A lot has happened in nine months. If I told you every gritty detail we’d be here for hours. 2016 was a year of incredible highs fraught with a devastating low. But, thus is life. We do our best to roll with the punches, cherish the wonderful moments, and weather the storms life sends our way. I will say, 2016 was without a doubt the most profound year of my life. It was a year I will never forget. Most of all, 2016 was the year I began a new chapter in a new state.

If I learned anything from my 1,000-mile move, it’s that home is something that travels with you. Sure, I physically left many of my friends and family behind, along with the town that I love. But, I also took with me the memories they gave me. Now, here in beautiful and big Texas, I often see things that remind me of people and places in Indiana. And in that way, I never left.


Hi-yo Silver, AWAY! Landlocked is moving to Texas!

Alright, let’s address the elephant in the room – did you guys know it’s “Hi-yo Silver” and not “Hi-ho Silver?” I’ll still yell “Hi-ho Silver”. Sometimes when you’re wrong, you don’t want to be right.

Secondly, we’re moving to Texas! Those of you that know me personally, know I’ve been wanting to do this for some time now. Well, some time came knocking in the form of a little bundle of joy in the oven. Wait, no, it’s a bun in the oven. You don’t put the bundle of joy in the oven. Valerie is pregnant. Man, I really dropped the ball on that announcement.

About two months ago Valerie came out of the bathroom, shaking with excitement. She told me to come with her and led me into the bathroom. Not knowing what to expect, I readied myself for bug-killing duties. Upon entering the bathroom she showed me a positive pregnancy test, to which I could do nothing but smile. And no, not because I didn’t have to kill a scary bathroom bug.

Now, numerous visits to the doctor, specialists, and various fast food establishments later, here we are! Valerie is entering her second trimester, I’m practicing my “Brave Dad” act and killing bugs with gusto, and our apartment is slowly transforming into a maze of boxes. Life is pretty dang sweet.

The question that is likely on all of your minds, “Will you change the name of the site?” Nope. Not a chance. Texas may have the Gulf, but that state is so big we’ll have to go out of our way to see it. So, as far as I’m concerned, I’ll still be landlocked.

Oh, and I’m still alive. I realize it’s been four months since my last post, which is long enough for most to be considered permanently lost at sea. Not this guy. Just negligent on land. Seeing as I’m not the one pregnant and I can still drink beer, look out for some Six-Pack Saturdays in the near(ish) future. I will definitely be doing some soon. In the mean time, I’ve got some “What to Expect” to read and some boxes to pack!



Super Bowl Grub – Spicy Little Smokies

So you’re about to host a Super Bowl party and you don’t have any snacks available. Well fear not, as I’ve got a whopping single idea to throw your way! If you like spicy meats and material ripe for immature jokes, then you need to pick up some little wieners and spicy barbecue sauce, because we’re making Spicy Little Smokies.

What you’ll need:

-One package of little smokies (I used Hillshire Farm brand)

-A bottle of barbecue sauce (I used Bonz brand spicy barbecue sauce, but you can’t go wrong with Kraft original)

-A crockpot or a large pot and stove (crockpot is ideal for lazy reasons)

Open your package of little smokies and throw them into your crockpot or pot.


Next, pour in a generous amount of barbecue sauce. It should look like a crime scene inside the pot when you’re finished.

Once everything is in your crockpot or pot, set it to medium heat for 30 minutes and cover. When guests arrive, turn the heat down to low to keep them warm. Lastly, grab your favorite beer and serve!

Good luck with your hangover tomorrow. May your Monday workday go quickly!

Six-Pack Saturday: Daredevil Brewing Company’s Liftoff American IPA

It’s time for Six-Pack Saturday’s triumphant return. Seeing as this is the first one of 2016, I decided it was an appropriate time for a small change to Six-Pack Saturday. I previously separated taste and drinkability into two different categories. The two seem to overlap a good portion of the time, so I am henceforth combining them into one category: taste (clever name eh?).

Being the first Six-Pack Saturday of the year, it seems only fitting that I review one of my favorite styles of beer – the IPA. This time around I’m trying something very local, Daredevil Brewing Company‘s Liftoff American IPA. Let’s drink this thing!

The Basics

Daredevil Brewing Co. was founded in 2011 in Indianapolis, Indiana, by Bill Ballinger, Michael Pearson, and Shane Pearson. Their brewery is located five blocks away from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the home of the Indianapolis 500 and Brickyard 400. Daredevil Brewing Co. has six special brews and their year round brew, Liftoff American IPA.

Liftoff American IPA is described as a hoppy West Coast Style IPA. It clocks in at a hefty 7.2% ABV, with an IBU of 72. Is this beer worthy of its Speedway heritage? Let’s find out.

The Taste

Daredevil wasn’t lying when they described this beer as hoppy. The hops are immediately noticeable when sipping this. They give the beer that almost citrus-like flavor IPAs often have, but without the bitterness. In fact, Liftoff is extremely smooth, and dare I say it, refreshing.

Despite the high ABV of this beer, it’s surprisingly easy to drink as well. There’s no bite or bitterness to be found here. My fiancee, who generally dislikes IPAs, even found this one to be smooth and enjoyable.


Upon drinking this beer, it’s easy to see why Daredevil Brewing Co. brews it year round. It’s smooth, very flavorful, and downright pleasant. I could see this being especially refreshing in the summer. As a seasoned IPA drinker, I am very impressed. I give this one ten out of ten hops. To those of you hesitant to try IPAs, do yourself a solid and hunt this one down. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some unopened cans of Liftoff that need some attention.

Cheers, Daredevil Brewing Co!
Cheers, Daredevil Brewing Co!

When Life Shouts

There is no resource more precious than life. You can’t renew it, you can’t recycle it – you can only live it to the fullest. I was recently reminded of this fact.

It’s easy to get caught up in our own world while living our day-to-day lives. We work, we stress about the little things, we make our problems our main priority. Oftentimes we become so unaware that we fall into a slumber. And that’s fine. We’re only human. But then it happens – life tries to wake you. Sometimes life merely nudges you awake with something insignificant like a parking ticket or a flat tire. And sometimes, life wakes you with a violent shout. When it does, it’s important to listen.
In the past 24 hours, life’s not-so-subtly reminded me of several things:

  • Cherish every moment. The good, the bad, the sublime.
  • Bring light to life’s darkest moments by learning something from them.
  • We’re all astronauts on this giant space rock we call Earth, and life can be pretty scary. Don’t be afraid to lean on others.
  • Smile, wave, nod your head – acknowledge people when you pass them on the street or in the office. It costs you nothing and it might mean the world to them.

Nobody can ever tell you what the meaning of life is. All you can do is live it as best as you can and be a positive influence on those around you. If you’re ever feeling overwhelmed, stop and remind yourself that somewhere, someone else is struggling too. It’s okay to be afraid and it’s okay to ask for help. We’re all in this together. If you or anyone you know needs someone to talk to, please don’t hesitate to contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, or online at

Remember, someone, somewhere cares about you.

I need to stop doing this


If I had a purity ring representative of the promises I’ve made to you guys, it would be coated with kind words and cow dung. I’m only human (definitely not a cyborg). Please forgive me, for the umpteenth time, for taking MONTHS off of writing. I was in a writing funk, distracted by new Christmas toys, planning major life events, daydreaming about moving, looking at houses we could only afford if we took up organ farming, eating tons of food, visiting friends, and not writing. Did I mention I’m sorry? Keep reading →

(Sloppy) Six-Pack Saturday: Great Divide Brewing Company’s Colette Farmhouse Ale

When I originally came up with the idea of Six-Pack Saturday, I imagined a review in which I pick a six-pack of beer and drink the entire thing, then review it. I never went through with it, as I figured the end result would be far too messy and unprofessional (not that professionalism is a concern around here). Well, it’s been over a year since Landlocked Living launched, and I feel it’s time I do a proper Six-Pack Saturday. For this special, Sloppy Six-Pack Saturday, I’m going to be quenching my thirst with Great Divide Brewing Company’s Colette, a “rustic farmhouse ale.” I’ll also be using a slightly different format with this one, covering the basics as usual but also describing the beer as I go through the entire six-pack. Buckle up, readers, it’s going to be a wild ride. Keep reading →