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Mark Long
1986 (approx)
2006

 
 

 

What did you do last night?

Last night I took a friend for a ride on my motorcycle through the canyon to Isabella. Once there, we had pizza and Amber Bach™. The night continued with a chilly ride to the natural hot springs below Old Kern Canyon Rd. Once we were both sufficiently warmed and wrinkled, we headed back to town. The night was wonderful.

What do you usually eat for breakfast?

I will usually have a bowl of cereal or a onion bagel with cream cheese for breakfast, but on one of my days off I like to do breakfast right with biscuits and gravy or bacon and eggs. Coffee is a daily staple!

How many hours a night do you sleep?

I will typically sleep 5 hours per night, including my nights off. I work late every day, about an hour, and then fill my evenings (lately) with school and volunteer work. On my nights off I spend the evening with friends, which keeps me out late.

What is your favorite hour of the day/night and why is it your favorite?

My favorite hour of the day is dawn. With each dawn I welcome the challenges that the new day has for me, and can reflect on the previous day and know that I survived. There is something so peaceful about the early dawn, regardless of the season.

Where do you live now?

I live in Bakersfield with my brother. I have hopes of moving to another town within the next 5 years, once I have developed my career.

What did you do in the year’s right after high school?

I was trying to survive as an independent gay male in a world that was new to me. I came out to myself and to my family while still in high school, which made a terrible combination of preceding events. I had just broken up with a girl at school when I realized I prefer guys. This did not go over well with her and her friends, as they moved to make my days at Foothill hell. With the added stress of little to no support from my family, I moved out of the house into an uncaring world that cared even less. I made the transition and met new people. I survived with any job I could land, even if flipping burgers was the job, which, in one case, was.

Tell us about your family? Kids? Spouses? Lovers? Partners? Divorces?

Two years after high school I met who I thought was my life partner. I was 19 and he was 24. We worked together for a lady who had a contract with The Bakersfield Californian. We worked for her for 6 years before taking over the contract ourselves. We continued our self-employment, and success, for 11 years. During which time I overcame cancer three times. Colon cancer runs in my family and I was blessed with the carcinoma in 1999. After one surgery and 13 months later, I was struck with the blow that the cancer had returned. The love of my partner, my family, and my friends helped me pull through two surgeries in 3 days that nearly killed me. I awoke two weeks later with a colostomy and fear of how to deal with this new apparatus that replaced my colon. The support of my partner was awesome; he helped me through everything I had to undergo those two years. I could see his spirit and support starting to wane when he had to care for me even further during the same year 2000 when I was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Chemo and radiation was inevitable as I fought off a third stage cancer, but my partner’s support was dwindling with each year. I beat the lymphoma a year later and was grateful to my wonderful family for their prayers and support. By the way, my family is in complete support of me now; they still would rather I settle down with a nice women, but alas, I have not found one that could be so forgiving of my past. In 2004 I had to have a full hip replacement due to damage caused by the chemo. I had not been able to walk without assistance for nearly a year as my hips deteriorated. This is when the support of my partner truly became apparent. About a year later, I had my colostomy reversed (yeah! I can poop again!) And was readying myself for my second hip replacement when I ended the 18 year relationship that I thought I would be stuck in forever. I had been unhappy for many years, but truly miserable when he showed his resentment for having to be my fulltime caregiver. I ventured into yet another new world, but this time, the world was accepting and not quite as cruel. Allow me to back up just a bit, as I left out a critical part of my history. In 2004 I had obtained my GED and headed for college. This also threatened my partner, adding to my misery. I now have one year to complete my Bachelor in Human Services.

Do you have a job outside of your home?

In October of last year (2005) I started volunteering at MARE Riding Center, an equine facility that offers therapeutic horseback riding to physically and developmentally disabled persons. Besides school and the only real job I have had in 18 years, this was the first responsibility I had taken on since my separation from my partner. In January of this year, MARE offered me a part-time position that has since lead to full-time. I am now the Facility Manager of our organization and handle everything from maintenance of the facility, donation requests from local businesses, to helping the clients during the lessons. The position is more than a job to me and I intend to incorporate my degree into my position after commencement. Starting a children’s cancer camp is one of my projects and I hope to have the program developed within the next 18 months.

Do you like your job?

My job is unbelievable. I love the staff and each of the 90 clients we service. I could not have asked for a more therapeutic job. You can’t find this kind of self-help with a psychiatrist!  Before starting to work with MARE, I had not pictured myself working with persons with disabilities. When I started working with the       kids, I fell in love with what God had given me. I would not change a thing.

What was your happiest day last year?

My happiest day of 2005 was the day my brother and I had purchased our motorcycles in Fontana, just four weeks after my hip replacement, and rode them home together.         

What is your biggest regret from the last 20 years?

I have no regrets from my past; it is what it is! I learned from each of my experiences and chose to make each negative experience a positive one. I have had, and am continuing to have, a wonderful life that is full of challenges that God ensures that I have the strength to overcome.

Do you miss high school? What things do you miss about it?

I do not miss high school; with the drama I had to face in my junior and senior year, I was glad to leave. I was not very popular or outgoing, so making a lot of friends was not high on my list of priorities. Perhaps had I put forth more of an effort I could have held on to those few friendships beyond high school.

What is one of your favorite memories from high school?

One of my favorite memories from high school was when Lora Bryant agreed to be my girlfriend. The romance was cut off quickly by our parents, but boy did I think she was cute! Lora is one of the only ones that I still communicate with. She happens to be one of my sister’s closest friends, so when we get together once or             twice a year, we still pretend we’re hot for each other. But truth be known, I have always been hot for Lora and she is the one gal from high school that does it for me! I love her dearly.

Who were your best friends in high school?

My best friends in high school were David Davis and Deanna Howeth. I am sure there were more, but remember, I left early. Deanna is the only one of the two I have seen recently. I ran into her this year and we reacquainted ourselves. I ran into David once since high school. I have bumped into several these last years, but did not make a connection.

Who was your favorite pop music band in high school?

Mr. Mister

Why do you want to attend a high school reunion?

I want to attend my sister’s high school reunion because it would please her to have me join in memories of years that were most special to her.

Why do you NOT want to attend a high school reunion?

I don’t think I was remembered well. I knew a lot of people, but did not gain lasting friendships. Dropping out of school twice did not help matters.

Are you nervous about attending your high school reunion? Explain.

I am not the least bit nervous about meeting what would have been my class of ’86 again. I am proud of my accomplishments and love to share them.

Do you like answering these questions?

Do I look bothered?

Do you have any tattoos? What are they?

Yes, one. On my right shoulder: Chinese peacock. I desire a larger tattoo on my left shoulder that would cover my shoulder and stretch down my arm just to the short sleeve.

What is your favorite food?

I can not get enough tacos! I love tacos and think tacos should be in their own food group!

Are your parents still alive? How are they doing?

My parents are alive and retired in Isabella. Both are happy and loving life.

Are you happy with the way you look these days? Please explain.

Oh yeah! I am slightly larger than high school, but with the roller coaster I was on, I am damn lucky to look the way I do!

If you won the lottery what would you do with the money?         

Donate to my charity of choice, after investing enough to care for myself and immediate family.

Are you religious? Spiritual? Agnostic? Is there a God?

Have you read nothing to this point? My relationship with God continues to grow as I do. Without my belief in God and the answer to prayers, I would not exist.

What do you watch on TV?

Unfortunately I have not had the time to view much television, but I do enjoy Desperate Housewives, Nip/Tuck, and Deal or no Deal.

What are your all-time favorite movies?

Do I have to have favorite movies? I have enjoyed many movies, but can’t say that I have a favorite.

Did you enjoy answering these questions?

I did enjoy answering the questions above to certain degree; you will notice that I deleted the ones that I felt were mundane. For a questionnaire, I feel I went above and beyond expectation.