The journal of Cristobal Garcia

December 11th, 2008

It's 1:14 AM and it's snowing outside. I can see the flurries, their silhouettes against the security light outside. Dancing in the wind...

I don't want to be here anymore. I don't want to live in these walls. Suffocating this air, the noise whipping my senses to deaf. The insignificant silence drawing my blood. To compensate, I tool around, shadowing in baby steps. Stooping down so my head doesn't hit the locker-box above the doorway. About-facing only to step into the back wall. Laughter pierces the night. Babbling from the psycho down the hall. He screams, "I hate you! I hate yewwww!" and laughs and giggles an elfish squeal. In unison a group of men shout, "Go! Go! Go! Go! Touchdown! Ahhh!" Beating their cell doors and pounding on the walls. My neighbor starts to holler for someone's attention down the run. That person screams back. A very sick person is coughing; he coughs a deep chest bark. Keys are rattling like the ghost of Christmas past. My head hurts. I swallow sips from a cup of water. The coolness relieving the dryness of my words. A guard materializes before my cell door. "What is your I.D. number?" he barks.

I calmly and softly enunciate the digits. Everything's slimy. All these voices tearing down. The chimes over the intercom system tip-toe as a warning of a "mutual assured earache." Bellowing commands. Slowly, the shadows corkscrew for digestion, eating all the fragments of light. Fatigue, exhaustion. I'm so tired. Just a little peace and quiet. I don't want to be here. I close my eyes.

December 21st

Had a surprise visit today. My aunts. As I was visiting, I subconsciously projected myself. I was aware of how I had difficulty talking to two people at once. I am so used to being isolated and cloistered that I kept having to pause to register everything. Its not that my aunts spoke a lot. I actually enjoyed the indulgence of their conversations. It's just that I spend my days avoiding others. The inhabitants of Ad-Seg are unbalanced from sensory deprivation. While some are nuts, others are mad, some are radically deranged and very few act right. Even with the sensible ones I keep conversation to a minimum. I found myself with a bunch of things floating in the sublime particles, my brain scanning for topics to talk with my aunts. Except the discipline I have practiced of not talking overriding my eagerness to speak. Still, it was a good visit. I haven't laughed in a good time. And I learned that I was not the only one who is colorblind in our family. That a bunch of the guys have it. (Note to self: stop self-projecting)

January 2009

For a while things were kind of hectic. I had two neighbors who were bad apples. These guys fell-out with about everyone. The majority of the men on my cell block (we call it a line) don't associate or have anything to do with them. Because I've never met them, I didn't jump on the band-wagon to ignore them. I try my best not to judge others for what's said of them. I hold people accountable on their own actions. There are a lot of men here who fall-out or hate each other due to issues of gambling, religion, race, nationality, egoism, stupidity, or arrogance. It's really a big list to just conform on paper here. I, personally, have stepped away from this kind of practice. I try to have no enemies. Of course when I do run into a real negative person I don't bark and talk the harsh language or B.S. And I don't ignore them. I do limit my conversation and involvement with them to a point where they see I am just keeping to myself. Well, these two bad apples started to trip on me. I have this neighbor...he's a white guy. He doesn't eat eggs. I don't eat pork rolls, pork links or processed pork patty. We made a deal. My pork trays for his egg trays. These two bad apples are Hispanic and made an issue about it saying I should make a deal with one of them because "we" are Hispanic. I first laid it to them...what I do is my business, I don't get into no ones business, not theirs, not anyone's. I don't accept anyone getting into mine. I don't play favoritism with anyone, whether it's race, hometown, or whatever. There is no "we" doing my sentence. There is only me doing my time, my debt to society. And above everything I keep my word. If I make a deal with anyone I keep it. I don't renege or break it. If it's something out of my power- that's different. But I don't get into controversies about it. I've been real cool with these bad apples. I told them that and they should know better than to mess with a convict's business. They apologized and said, "let bygones be bygones." It was supposed to be the end of it. A few days later I came back from my one-hour recreation. A few of my other neighbors are warning me to watch out. Them bad apples were saying they was going to get me. I know it sounds real f*cking stupid that they'd make a big issue over food trays. Especially that's not theirs and has nothing to do with them. Deal is bad apple number one has a life sentence, bad apple number two has accumulated something like 290 years. Obviously, they're never getting out. The persons they are today- their minds aint right. In their warped thinking they'd kill over a roll of toilet paper (which the state provides). Serious!! I overheard them talking about me when they thought I was asleep or out of earshot. I didn't change my routine or ways. In fact, there were a few times I was left vulnerable. I waited for something to happen. They did nothing. Well, I guess someone said something because they moved everyone. I mean the guards moved the whole line.

I've taken trips and lived on super-max high security units, gang units, death row units, and Gladiator units. After a time this reputation as a fighter built-up around me. Not really focusing on the fighting but on my prominence to react. How I was known to take action. A few years ago I stepped back, I retired more or less. I still have urges sometimes to react and do damage. It's just I am not really that person anymore. If I were my old self I would have made examples out of those bad apples. It's just I also would have gotten into deep trouble with the prison officials. They'd lock me up in the hole for two years. It aint nice. And now they file free-world assault charges, so it's a possibility -depending on the damage- to be given more time.

There are some men around me who will only leave prison in a casket. I realize how close I've come to following those footsteps. How easy I could fall into that kind of mess.

Now I have better neighbors: One is a Jehovah witness and the other is a Satanist. These guys are off in their own worlds of religion and keeping low key. What's changed me? Well, a number of things. When I started this time I was living on my pain and found relief in fighting. It's just even though I justified everything I did in defense of my security, reputation or whatever sounded nice. I knew I was wrong. Violence went against my core beliefs. At one point it just stopped feeling right. I just didn't feel anything at all. I began to study and read philosophies, theory, science, history and psychological academic knowledge and teachings. My understanding and practice in life went from physical to spiritual. I stopped feeling empty and found this peace. Deal is, even though I've changed, the men here are stuck to see me a specific way. And that's what is dangerous. Because there is always some new boot or some fool who feels he has to make a name for himself. So to prove to the masses that they can be hardcore and tough, they attempt to provoke me or test me. So far, I've just used my patience, wit and silence in these types of situations. Sometimes, I feel really stressed but I'm grounded. I won't allow myself to fall into any more pits.

Sometimes the hardest thing I fight myself from doing is to tell another man to just "shut up." Seriously. One of my neighbors has been talking for four hours non-stop about how he was this tough mo-fo in the world. How he ran his gang and how he was smashing neighborhoods to his will and desire. On and on about nothing. It's the same story he told last week and the week before that. It gets very old real quick.

I got to hear some of Obama's inauguration day ceremony. They made a big deal about it and I'm not sure if that's the right thing to do. There are people who've lost their homes, retirement savings, jobs and so much more. It just didn't feel right, how big they made it.

1 February 2009

Young Master,

I know how discouraging loved ones can be. Whether it's the broken promises or the false illusions they give. They do though speak a "truth." Man, they mean well, just like I knew you had meant well with all of those promises you made to me. Try not to hold any grudges or animosity against them. It will only make you bitter and it will slowly eat your insides. I know... I know they promised you letters, pictures, visits, and galore. They won't for get you! The deal is you really must not push them. You have to be very humble (like Jesus) and carry "your" cross. No one will help you if you push them by pressures of emotional stress. They have this prejudice and fear about prison. La Vida Loca is too much for them. When the moment comes, Young Master, I will be your Simon and help you carry this Cross. Yet, I have to give it back. It is your journey and I can give you comfort and advice. You have to go on your own walk this life. Be crucified and die. You must navigate through hell and return from the land of the Dead. I know you value Christian warrior-ship. This is not a physical war. It's a spiritual and a psychological war.

2 February 2009

Last night it rained. Thunderstorms affect me.

Thunder and lightning. Mechiko and Sakura were terrified of thunder and lightning. At night, in bed, Sakura would gently reach out to me and touch me. She would curl up next to me as if I were a great mountain that protected her. When the clouds were in a great war, it sometimes made her cry. I would comfort her, often stepping outside to look at the sky, as if I talked to the wind. Crawling back in bed, I'd assure her that we were safe. I didn't see or sense tornadoes. Sakura would place her hand against my ribs. Opening her hand to touch me whenever the lightning or thunder scared her.

As soon as a storm exploded, Sakura and I would teasingly count backwards...10,9,8,7,6, and then you'd hear the pitter-patter sprint of Mechiko...5,4, and she'd magically appear at the side of the bed. Shaking already with tears, her eyes frozen with fear, like a deer in the headlights. Spooked. She'd whisper to see if we were awake and then run to me and throw herself on my chest. Squeezing me tightly and at ever bolt that scared her. She'd fall asleep, refusing to move or let go of me. I dreamed them. I was there and not here. The wind woke me. Its breeze howling through the broken window in front of my cell. Like how the wind would howl through the cracks in that ancient shack we lived on Avenus S. My heart pounding at warp-speed aching and my lungs feeling heavy. My body feeling incomplete now- as if someone has body-snatched my insides.

I stand... in the Zombie-cancer stupor. Leaning on the bars of my cell-door, looking at the storm (it's still active). I down a half-cup of tea. When the thunder explodes, I feel it inside my core. I begin to pace. Four steps to the east and four returning to the West (from the door to the toilet). As I pace, the wind explodes and gushes into my cell. The witchery of all this. In the breeze, it mysteriously carries the scent of Mechiko's strawberry fragrance shampoo that traced her hair. My senses detect Sakuna's honey-butter lotion. Her silky aroma. Am I going crazy? Thunder and lightning, I miss them. This hurts. I long for Mechiko's hugs and head against my chest. I hunger for Sakura's touch. The gentleness and softness as her fingers traced my skin as if I were delicate. Sakura's kisses upon me when she though I was asleep.

Thunder and lightning conjure these flashbacks. A strobe-light movie. My whole body aches. Walking as a caged animal. A tiger growling in pain. The constant pressure from the concrete hurts my feet. The pain becomes so great that I am forced to sit on my bunk. The lights and power go out. Thunder and lightning shooting me with their images. Slowly, I breathe in. Thunder and lightning, Mechiko and Sakura. Calmly, in the lotus position I begin to let go. Detachment. I am here and not here. The chaos of the storm still fighting in the sky. I am still. Slowly, I no longer notice the storm. Mechiko and Sakura's images are still there but not here. Thunder and lightning again.

6 February 2009

This month means crossing over into a new decade. I now have ten years completed under my belt. One whole decade wasted away in this dungeon. This is not how I planned out my life. I set a goal to be retired by now and to work only out of boredom... yeah, you'd think that after a decade I wouldn't miss things so much. That I would be able to look at the free world as if it were all a fond memory. No! It still fells as if it were only yesterday that I woke up beside my girl, got the kids ready for school, fed the dogs, pulled the truck out of the garage and said, "Let's roll." Clocking-in to work and enjoying my job, to meet everyone at this or that cafe for lunch, calling Mom during the day to see if she needed anything. I can go on and on. It all seems like yesterday.

There are a lot of thoughts.


Often, I will have images about my ex-girlfriend. This image floats into my present. These feelings are real and in the now. Except, it is not about who the ex-girlfriend is today. I am recalling not who she is in 2008 or 2009. I do not even know this person anymore. Who she is now. I, of course, am nonexistent to her. Occasionally, I'll have images of girlfriends I've dated. These incarnations going into the thresholds of my school years and at times steeping into my earliest childhood memory. Why? (I ask myself this all the time.) Why am I day dreaming of Julie Martinez whom I dated in my junior year of high school? What's the deal here? Why am I recalling these relics of my past?

Conversations I've held with prisoners. (Those who are able to accommodate intelligent and meaningful dialogue about the factors of prison life.) Some men have acknowledged having thoughts and dreams of relationships, of females, as far back as preschool. In which the feelings manifested in the present. Even though to latch on to these feelings is ludicrous.

Why is this happening?

It is a side-effect. Yes, a consequence of sensory deprivation. We, the men, are deprived of interrelationships. The conjugal unions. Interaction with a member of the opposite sex, intimacy, and companionship. Not specifically sex. The sociability between the sexes. Is it no wonder prison is so violent? Men are eradicated into an antagonist world. This penalistic society. Where prisoners identify with brutality and egotism. The men thrive blandly into this "hardcore" stereotype. Compassion and tenderness is viewed as a merit of the femaleness or the homosexualness.

To compensate...I dream. I have flashbacks. This, I guess, keeps me humane. If I do not circulate these feelings, if I do not relive them, I lose myself little-by-little to this hallow, pessimistic world. Hence, the institutionalization to transform over to the prisoners. No longer able or suitable for participation of the human race. There are sayings about prison: "In the struggle, prison will either make you a better man, or it will break you and make you the worst kind of man."


Prince's song "The Beautiful Ones" is playing on the radio. I flash back to the 8th grade and Joann Garza. In homeroom class, she and I used to share a walkman and sing this song. We wrote love poems to each other, filled with magic, music, MTV, and transcendental idea of fashion. It took me a whole semester to work up the nerve to kiss her. When I did, she just laughed, "It took you long enough."

21 April 2009

So, the B.S. begins... Every Spring, when the weather begins to get hot and because this very old prison has no air-conditioning.(History Fact- Clyde Barker of the notorious Bonnie & Clyde did prison time in this exact prison. They orchestrated an escape which left a guard dead). The prison has a big fan (only one) for each floor, and all it does is blow the hot and very humid air down the runway. The cells are like ovens. This season change, from spring to summer, the guards do enforcement acts, to intimidate us, and keep us from going to showers on recreation. You see, it is just as hot and suffocating here for the guards. They do not want to deal with the heat. If it was up to them, they'd sit on their asses all day in front of the fan sipping on ice cold drinks.

I want to say it's excessive use of enforcement. They're technically not breaking any rules, except now they really look and try to find something to write disciplinary cases against inmates who shower or go to recreation. Like, one time, we got cases for having one extra bar of state soap, which is stupid, because the state soap is as big as two U.S. postage stamps. With one bar, you can barely wash yourself with it. They hand out disciplinaries for an extra towel (how do they expect us to bathe in our cells without any towels?) and these disciplinaries hand out punishment restrictions, usually in 30 to 45 day punishments taking away the privileges to go to recreation & commissary. If you get three disciplinaries of a minor offence, these minors enhance into a major offence, where your punishment will carry recreation, commissary and a harsher punishment of loss of a custody level, loss of a classification level, and loss of good-time credits.

Last week, a female guard went through every picture, magazine, book, letter, and folder I had. When I asked her just what she was looking for, she said she was trying to find any pictures (images) that she felt “could be” pornographic. She said, I'm going to write major cases. I had the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue laying on top of everything. I guess she was trying to determine if she could use one of those images against me. As I began to clean-up the mess she created, I got very bothered by it all. I never disrespect the bosslady. I don't B.S. her or give her hell like some of my neighbors do. I always say yes and no ma'am, thank you and I talk politely to her. I don't even talk to her unless it's absolutely necessary. My neighbors are always calling her bitch, whore and trailer park trash. They ask her if she's on the rag or what color her panties are. They also ask the same questions to some of the bossmen. And this bosslady knows that I don't give her any trouble. One day she mentioned, “You sure are quite quiet. Are you okay?” It kind of embarrassed me, but I told her I was just reading a book. As I gathered up my pictures I started to get angry. I wanted to go off. You know, start insulting her. She looks like Amy Winehouse twin sister, does she smoke crack and... all these things I wanted to say just to be mean. To hurt her for hurting me. A lot of men were already screaming insults at her. Talking about her mama and how all the guards take turns on her. Whose your Daddy? Better call Jerry Springer. I had to laugh. It's cruel, but last month she wasn't acting this way. None of the guards were. It's just now mostly everyone goes to rec or shower. Just to get out of their cell.

24 April 2009

Last month, I had a medical lay-in (which is an appointment), a video-conference call with a specialist/doctor at John City Hospital in Galveston. I waited all day for the escorts to come get me. They never did. So, that same night, I wrote the medical unit practice manager, Shanta Crawford, and asked what happened. She replied that I was a no-show. So I wrote her again explaining how I had waited all day and no escorts ever came to get me, what does she mean “no show!” Ms. Crawford said, “I did not show-up, but she'd reschedule me.” The day I received this reply, I attempted to confront the shift Sgt about it. The 2nd shirt Sgt Pyle told me he could not do anything about it (it didn't happen on his shift) and I'd have to get with medical. I then attempted to get a 1st shit Sgt attention. Sgt. Williams said he would come talk to me but never did. I then filed a grievance back. The response says, “Your complaint has been received. The medical has a lay in list which the escorts go by. If your name is not on the lay-in list...” So, automatically I filed an appeal. Because Ms. Crawford stated I was a “no-show” on the lay-in, so my name is on the list.

In September, I had gone to the hospital (Galveston) for an MRI and testing. Because of Hurricane Ike, I had not been able to see my results. I'm on meds now and the deal is I'm trying to just get treatment which I qualify for. It's just I needed testing to see how to be treated. I'm not going to get into it all, but I've been waiting since September '08. This is my life here. If I don't look out for me, they sure as hell won't.

26 April 2009

Major Issues blasting downstairs as the men argue. Bible-Thumper said he is going to snitch on his neighbors because they won't share any food with him. Now, this is the same Bible-Thumper who attempted suicide a while back. Not only is he saying he's going to snitch on inmates, he is also going to snitch on the guards. It's like a mad house. The most detested kind of inmate is a snitch. In the prison caste infrastructure, the bottom half is listed: serial rapist, child molesters, race traitors, thieves (in prison), catch-out (a person who catches protective custody or moves after jacking-burning people, and a snitch.

27 April 2009

Just read about Miss California and Perez Hilton. Her response to his question concerning marriage was a question that should have never been asked in the first place. Not taking any sides here. It's just that Miss USA pageant should not be used as a political apparatus, which is what Perez Hilton turned it into. The pageant is supposed to be an institution that innovates the fairytale princess culture of America. Young boys dream of being warriors and cowboys, and young girls have had the princess dream. I understand that today some of those roles have changed because some of the guards, the bossladies, act like cowboys and soldiers, and some men here act like princesses. This doesn't mean that one culture should destroy the other, which is what Perez Hilton did. He destroyed that young woman's dream of being a princess due to his own prima donna complex and political ambition.

28 April 2009

They have the big fan on. It's right in front of my cell. It's pointed down the runway. It's loud, like the propellers of an airplane that hasn't been greased in ages, a big buzzing-thundering sound with chirps of squeaks and rattling. I can't hear anything over it. I barely hear other men - who are shouting at each other - and the doors and gates slamming shut. It's like being inside an 18-wheeler trailer as it goes down the highway. (Don't ask me how I know about that.) But it's what I am feeling. Now, I am in utter silence. I can't talk to anyone and no one can talk to me. At least no one can hear me sing. It used to bother me. The silence. The feeling that sometimes I am all alone. That no one even knows I am here. Am I here? Or is this some F-ed-up dream? The deal is, when I am around people now, I am very uncomfortable, Not with everyone, But you know how some folds like to talk to you and stand-up real close and try to touch you in a way. I freak out! Even when I go to medical I have to fight the urge of withering back. I fight the urge of saying, “Don't touch me.” I don't like it when the guards held my arm as they escort me. It's scary because I know when I go home everyone is going to want to hug me, touch me and be real intimate. And, these things bother me now. I have photos where I'm hugging family and loved ones, and I want all that. But right now, I really don't know.