Dec 08 2006

Hey, hetero!

A bug’s death in Australia, as photographed by Deborah Kelly

When Aussie blamer Deborah Kelly sent me this marvelous photograph of a giant spider eating a giant dragonfly I was pleased in the extreme, for I exist in a perpetual state of awe over the really superb critters prowling around Australia. Every bug they’ve got out there is not only 28 times as big as the biggest one I’ve ever seen, it’s deadly venomous, too. Deborah says the crunching was so loud she could hear it inside the house.

In her email, Deborah kindly wished me well with all the cancer treatment and stuff (thanks, Deborah!), and it occurred to me that I’d forgotten to tell you guys: one day last week I had about 37 scans and tests. They injected a few pints of radioactive slime into me, topped me off with a couple of quarts of barium, and enjoined me to lie motionless in an assortment of metal tubes, the purpose of which inconvenience was to reveal to an anxious audience (me) whether the year-long series of therapeutic toxic poisonings and physical mutilations has actually done any good.

I must admit, the 48 hours between the completion of the tests and the advisory phone call were somewhat hair-raising. Maybe the treatments hadn’t worked. Maybe the cancer had spread to my lungs or some other useful organ. Maybe I’d be back in chemo again, spending another bald winter with a bloated, steroid-enpuffened moonface, repelled by the sight of a taco, unable to eat anything but grape popsicles. Maybe there’d be more surgery. Maybe I’d be dead in 6 months. Who would Stingray have coffee with? Who would look after Bert? What would my secretary Phil do with his empty days?

Or maybe the tests would be negative, and I could resume my life where I left it in October of 2005. What was I doing in October of 2005? I can’t quite remember — taking out the trash, maybe, or giving the dog a bath.

I was certain the tests wouldn’t be negative, though.

So, the tests were negative. I ain’t got too much cancer no more. At least for now.

Thanks to everyone who mumbled words of support and sent me amusing baubles during this fucking hideous nightmare. It’s oddly pleasant when a few total strangers give a flip whether you live or die.

But ANYWAY, don’t get maudlin; check out Deborah Kelly and Tina Fiveash’s Hey, Hetero!, a delightful public art installation pointing out government sponsored and culturally mandated heteronormativity.


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  1. Bugs! Health! Public art! Yes!

  2. paycheckparty.org

    Golden words, lovely in the extreme to read. Bask in your spot of sunshine, Twisty dear! We love you!

  3. Twisty, I am a long-time daily lurker on your blog. I love it; you keep my mind sharp, you cut through the b.s and get right to the heart of things, and you (and Burt)make me laugh. I just wanted to say I am very happy to hear you are cancer-free and that Burt, Stingray, secretary Phil, and I do not have to face the empty days alone without you. Here’s to life resuming!


  4. Twisty, I was just going to comment about what an awesome picture this is, and then I read the actual post. What terrific news! I’m raising my cup of coffee in the direction of Austin in a toast to your recovery and your inspired blaming.

  5. ninaturns40.blogs.com

    I’ll try not to get maudlin, but that is fanfuckingtastic news, dear Twisty. And I am not messing with any spiders should I ever venture to Australia.

  6. ringmar.net/diane/index.html

    A cancer free,and a patriarchy free-zone. Fantastic!

  7. norbizness.com

    Damn, I was hoping for MechaTwisty 3000. Oh well, I guess I’ll just have my Japanimation to fuel my dreams.

    Seriously, though…. I really like androids. I mean, congratulations.

  8. Glad to hear your treatment is going well.

    I just signed up for an account and can view your dashboard and post and edit. You may want to look into why that is, as I suspect you don’t want AG to have access to this.

  9. great news!

  10. That’s good to hear – congrats!

  11. Congratulations, Twisty, that’s wonderful news.

  12. Negative. Hooray and hallelujah! I am so happy for you. And us. Now I can (ritually) remove all the silver twisty-ties I put on my pens to remind me to send positive thoughts in your direction everyday. Or maybe I’ll just leave them and vibe to your general well-being, superlative blaming, happiness and celebration of your beating the monster.

    Anybody remember the Oscar-winning, David Wolper documentary from around 1970 called the Helstrom Chronicles? I don’t think it’s been released on DVD. I can’t find it at any rate. Too bad. It’s one of those flicks I could watch over and over. Seeing insects in close-up action on the big screen was damned impressive. Gave me a whole new appreciation and I was one of those tomboys who was facsinated by them. I had a favorite red ant hill I made sure to give some treats to everyday, very carefully since those big ol’, high-desert reds had a mean bite.

    I remember one time when I was really little being so engrossed in whatever I was playing at I inadvertently sat on one of their hills. Oh, Mommy! I remember how humilating it was for my mom to put me up on a table and dab baking soda paste all over my butt. I was amazed at how many of them were able to bite me so quickly. I had to stay in the house, nekked from the waste down until the paste did it’s work. Not pretty. Took the saying “got ants in your pants?” to a whole ‘nother level for me.

  13. HOORAY!

  14. I’ll hoist a glass of nice red wine tonight in celebration of such gladsome tidings. Long may you blame!

  15. This is indeed good news!

  16. Wonderful news Twisty!

  17. Marvelous! That must be a relief. Here’s to the resuption of normal, daily routine.

  18. Yay! Oh, I’m so happy for you. And for me. I need your posts, Twisty. Your words are my morning coffee.

  19. salfordfeminist.blogspot.com

    Congratulations. What grand news. Pippa x

  20. Excellent news, Twisty.

    That photo is incredible. It gives me the heebs and I’ll probably dream tonight of monstrous spiders devouring my body while I try to escape the massive web in which I am trapped.

  21. educeme.com

    “I ain’t got too much cancer no more.”

    Would it be tacky to put that on a t-shirt?

    Either way, this news is worthy of a huge fucking HURRAH!

  22. I’m so happy, Twisty. This is such great news! I have to confess to a certain level of selfishness, since I don’t know how I could possibly go about my day without my daily dose of blaming, but I’m also genuinely thrilled that you’re cancer free. You are amazing, and thank you from the bottom of my heart for this blog. It’s changed my life.

  23. Congrats, Twisty! I will consume several tacos tonight as a toast to your health and happiness. You are a prince and a scholar, and the world is a better place with both your fabulousness and your fabulous blamers in it. You manage to inspire me on so many fronts, that deserves a congrats in itself. All the best,


  24. I don’t know how this post could be any better, maybe with some tacos and tequila.

    Thanks also for the link to Deborah and Tina’s work, that was delicious!

  25. Such good news!
    It makes me want to rush out and send more baubles!
    We are so thankful that you’re well – we love you and need you.
    (josquin -formerly known as robin)

  26. Mazel tov on the scan results. I’m 3 years and 2 months post-lung cancer diagnosis, 2 years 10 months post-surgery, and I always assume the worst when I go in for periodic scans–well, one of these days I’ll be right, law of averages–and so far, no bad news. So I know how relieved you’re feeling. Yes, as Beth in Michigan suggests, celebrate, after the fashion of your people.

  27. feministlawprofs.law.sc.edu

    I’m so glad about your wonderful news. I’ve been trying to e-mail you a scanned copy of the letter I received from the Breast Cancer Action Network acknowledging the contribution related to this: http://feministlawprofs.law.sc.edu/?p=1072
    But too many pixels for your e-mail program to consider accepting, which makes it look like a virus or something, and I can’t seem to simultaneously compress and retain legibility. Anyway, just wanted to show you I really sent the money and wasn’t full of crap, at least not on that particular point. May preventative and less intrusive curative techniques for addressing breast cancer be with us soon.

  28. saraarts.com

    Yes, mazeltov! And I have to get maudlin. I have a deep human need to get maudlin that cannot be denied. Besides, my culture mandates it.

    That is some awesome public art. Thank you.

    Hey, I thought you fired Phil.

  29. Twisty – this is lovely to hear. I’ve been reading your blog for weeks but hardly ever comment, which is creepy, but you know – this is wonderful news.

    In your honour, I’ve decided that tonight I will try my first ever taco.

  30. Oh, Twisty! I’m so happy for you and all in your life, including us onions. Have my eyes ever welled up from hearing good news over the interwebs about a person I’ve never met in person? I can say now: fuck yeah they have.

    And I also have a question.

    The Federal Government’s desire to exclude lesbians and single women from IVF technology has made front page news across the nation since 2000.

    Do I understand this correctly from the skimming I’ve done: it is illegal in Australia for an unmarried woman to receive IVF? So basically the government wants lesbians to submit to the almighty penis at least once (maybe that’ll learn ’em), and endure unwanted hetero sex in order to conceive, rather than use an existing, safe, proven technology to start a family? Where has my head been? Oh right, in the sand, apparently. Gracious.

  31. bastantealready.blogspot.com

    Happy to hear that, Twisty!

  32. Great news!

  33. This is the best thing you’ve ever written. Airstreams Ahoy!

  34. Woo hoo ! Great news.

  35. Good to hear; I’ve been wondering.

  36. Hooray and ditto to everything everone else said — especially the taco part.

  37. Onions, young and old, weeping for joy and doing a happy dance. I have been through that 48 hours of mind numbing terror far too many times. I think it is the worst part of an entirely foul experience.

    The hetero installation is squisite, thank you.

  38. Good riddance, cancer! And hooray Twisty!

  39. literaryhoax.com

    YAY YAY YAY to your good news. Thank sod for that.

  40. spinningtumor.blogspot.com

    Wooo fucking hoo, dancing dirty with NED! But there’s not much worse than PSA (pre- or post-scan anxiety). I have a MUGA scheduled next week to see if I have any heart muscle left and already I’m a wreck.

    In other exciting hetero news, we have some impressively creepy fauna here in Louisiana too. See also “Crazed Coital Cannibals! The story of Albert and Lisa.”

  41. One million congratulations. Can I just say: as a complete stranger, it is oddly pleasant giving a flip whether you live or die. Delightful news. xx

  42. hattie.typepad.com/hatties_web

    Wonderful news. I think my refusal to expose my breasts must have helped you quite a bit.
    Speaking of creepy crawlies: I discovered a huge centipede in my mother in law’s carport. I got my trusty cleaver that I ordinarily use to chop apart chickens, and closing my eyes, hacked the bugger in half. Whack!! Immediately, its yellow-greeny innards starting pouring out while its head weaved around angrily, no doubt looking for who did this to it and not realizing it was as good as dead. It took it half an hour to croak properly.
    Just thought I’d share.

  43. meanfeminism.blogspot.com

    Yay! You are healthy, bugs are healthy, and PHIL’S BACK! Life is good.

  44. aeandsometimesa.blogspot.com

    Awesome, all around.

  45. so damn happy to hear this. ive been having these dreams about you in which you are some sort of superhero. seriously! :)

  46. brendonalvord.com

    Delurking to shout out my delight at the wonderful news.

    And big thanks for the righteous outrage, wicked wordsmithery and all-around brilliant blaming.

  47. Congratulations! I announce global happiness due to cancerlessness news.

  48. Wonderful news, Twisty! I’m a lurker, and I love you.
    But, rootlesscosmo, doesn’t the law of averages say that the longer you go cancer-free the more likely you are to stay that way? After my mother’s masectomy, it was after some magic number of years (2? 3? 5?) that the docs told her her chances of getting cancer were no higher than anyone else’s in the population. She will be 20 years cancer-free come this March. Were they just feeding her a line?
    And, Hattie, why are you killing beautiful centipedes?

  49. hedonisticpleasureseeker.wordpress.com



    I’ll be drinking to Twisty tonight!

  50. Well, that’s totally awesome- you get mail from Deborah Kelly? She’s my hero. The first time I read in detail about her work, connecting all these amazing public art projects I had long admired to the one artist, I burst into tears at the joy of it. And if she loves bugs as well I just don’t know how I’m going to swallow my compulsive need to throw myself at her feet next time I spot her in public.

    Congratulations, of course, on the defeat of cancer cells without recourse to the therapeutic benefits of baby pink everything.

  51. capacioushandbag.blogspot.com

    Great news!

  52. Oh, my gosh! What a relief for you. I mean I know it’s not really a total relief. But enough of that. Wow. I am SO glad. I’m wishing good things for you. Lots of good things, big and small.

  53. poetryheadquarters.blogspot.com

    Twisty, dear Bug…I sound a hearty “huzzah!”…be well and let the awesome power of the well-prepared taco waft over your being…Yay Stingray for continuing to have a java pal…big long-distance hugs to you from me…..

  54. unsanesafe.blogspot.com

    Happy recovery times. Me hatem hospital.

  55. realadultsex.com

    I’ve been thinking about you a lot since this summer. Ok, and feeling maudlin. Sounds like you’re going to be ok though so I guess I can stop. I’m really glad to hear it.

    Take care,


  56. Goblinbee: the docs assure me (against all my intuition) that you’re right, the likelihood of a recurrence actually decreases with time. What I meant was that–despite the way I often feel–they didn’t grant me immortality, so one way or another, some time or another, I will be getting that “Rootless, I do not have good news for you” talk.

  57. karenroadchronicles.blogspot.com

    I hope you publish a small but vague study concluding that after rigorous research conducted world wide(in Texas), it has been finally proven that feminism cures cancer.

    Best news I heard all week, thanks for sharing.

  58. Hat’s off to you, Twisty. You’ve beaten cancer and now it’s on to the patriarchy. Tally-ho.

  59. imponderabilia.blogspot.com

    Great news, great (but fucking scary) photograph.

  60. jbeeky Dec 8th, 2006 at 7:51 pm

    “I hope you publish a small but vague study concluding that after rigorous research conducted world wide(in Texas), it has been finally proven that feminism cures cancer.”

    An even more definitive study has concluded that it’s actually BLAMING that cures cancer.

  61. It can’t already be a year, can it?
    Give that oncologost a raise – and a cigar to the wonderful Darla Ree-shard, who let Twisty in on the secret of longevity through CANCER.
    One of my phavourite posts.

    Sara, I suspect that Phil couldn’t be let go because he’s got the key to the new improved archive. I found the Darla Ri-chargh essay in around 2ms – and most of that was the latency in the Pacific cable link.
    Give Phil a raise, I say.

  62. urban-hills.blogspot.com

    Great news, Twisty. Congratulations!

    I just spent four days in Sydney, and thankfully the only bugs or spiders I saw were in the zoo. I like to view from afar. Very afar. from another country; through the television set; behind two inch thick perspex; take your pick. Just not in my frickin house or garden. I like NZ, where the nastiest insect is the harmless and shy Weta.

    I love the photo though.

  63. Wait! You mean NZ got no insects? What gives?

  64. scienceblogs.com/ethicsandscience

    After a seriously fucking insane week at the nest of micromanagers posing as a university where I work, this news is so heartening I almost have the strength not to dope-slap anyone.

  65. “Do I understand this correctly from the skimming I’ve done: it is illegal in Australia for an unmarried woman to receive IVF?”

    Restrictions are State-based, not Federal, I believe. In the state of Victoria, the legislation (and the possible legal ways around it) are outlined here:


    and more here:


  66. faultline.org/place/toad

    Good! My little sister got similar news this week. Raise those glasses, >clink

  67. the-reaction.blogspot.com

    Wow, Twisty, that’s wonderful news. I don’t know if “congratulations” is the word here, but if it is, congratulations, and if not, may you be cancer free for eons to come.

  68. urban-hills.blogspot.com

    Hi Pony,
    NZ has insects, in fact birds and insects are the only indigenous life here: everything else has been introduced. What I meant was that the insects and spiders here are harmless. No creature of NZ will inject you with a fearful poison which causes you to rot slowly to death (except maybe, some of the men). You aren’t going to see a giant huntsman spider rearing up at you when you raise the toilet lid in the morning, which I understand is a common event in Australia. The Weta is the only thing that looks fierce, but though I understand they have a nasty nip, t’ain’t no hospital visit. In Australia, various things appear to possess a sting/bite resulting in you barely having time to utter the words “I blame the patriarchy” before breathing your last. Scary stuff.

    Here’s a pic of the humble weta. I haven’t seen one yet in the wild yet but I am keeping my eyes peeled. http://weta.boarsnest.net/gallery.htm

  69. How odd. I mean that it being so close, but having nothing similar and similarly lethal. I’ve always thought that was one of the positives (I try very hard to find them ~ ) of living where everything freezes 8-10 months of the year. It’s relatively safe to lift the toilet lid. It’s even too cold for bed bugs and cockroaches, mostly; or snakes except one type, small and innocent. Of course you can freeze to death in 20 minutes. But they say it doesn’t hurt.

  70. You aren’t going to see a giant huntsman spider rearing up at you when you raise the toilet lid in the morning, which I understand is a common event in Australia.

    Australians certainly raise toilet lids on most mornings.

    I don’t know anything about giant huntsmen spiders rearing up though.
    What we in the Southwest of the place – and I understand this is also the common name over east – call huntsmen are insectivorous bark-dwellers that sometimes end up inside the house or car and give you a scare as they scuttle away when you pull down the sun visor or open the curtains.
    Huntsmen are harmless to mammals and haven’t got the leg or fang equipment to enable any kind of rearing up-ness.

  71. unsanesafe.blogspot.com

    I have never raised a toilet lid in the morning, nor do I expect to do so.

  72. darkymac, I didn’t know you were a fellow Southwesterner.

    I’ve lived in huntsman-infected houses. They tend to lurk in eaves and wardrobes, and scuttle across ceilings. One night, I was awoken by one who had abseiled onto my face and was trying to get into my mouth.

    Their bite may be relatively harmless by Downunderan standards, usually causing self-limiting pain and swelling only, but one nearly killed me one night. I went to press a button on the car radio and my hand contacted GIANT HAIRY CREATURE instead of cool,soothing plastic.


  73. Howdy Lara – I’m Bunbury way, near the scarp – and obviously trapped indoors on one of the best early summer days in living memory. Who would be talking to the glass tit when the beauty of nature beckons so siren-like this evening, I ask you.

    One night, I was awoken by one who had abseiled onto my face and was trying to get into my mouth.
    Probably after the cockroaches and mozzies that had already been that way, ay.
    You can thank the huntsmen in infested houses and cars for most likely reducing the population of more harmful arthropods.

    edit to above post: Recipe for evicting huntsmen from cars: stand car in sun with windows just cracked open
    Hunstmen seek cool shade.

  74. Oh dear, I didn’t proofread that.

    Probably after the cockroaches and mozzies that had already been that way, ay.
    Rephrasing, and in a proper sentence: The spidie was probably following after the cockroach and mozzie scents that had already been tracked across your face.

    And with that clanging failure at expressing carefree ‘umour, I shall go and do something useful.

  75. stormcloud.wordpress.com

    Fabulous news about your test results Twisty *hugs*

    Regarding aussie critters, creepy and bitey and BIG.

  76. witchy-woo.blogspot.com

    I shall raise my glass in celebration too.

    Seriously pleased here – and giving many-a flip.

  77. Personally, I reckon the small wildlife that can kill or maim you with a single bite is one of the best things about Australia, but then I lack the tendency to be freaked out by bugs & spiders. Finding spiders under the toilet seat or in the shower might not be that much fun, but finding green tree frogs in the toilet bowl is awesome! A little unnerving maybe, but quite cool, and not something I’ve ever encountered outside Austraia.

  78. Your NED dx made me teary-eyed and gave me hope for my own someday. I agree with Pony that this is your best post ever.

  79. guerillawomentn.blogspot.com

    May I also add my maudlin expression of great relief and joy at your cancer-less news. Pony said it: The best thing you’ve ever written.

  80. vera.wordpress.com

    “Hey, Hetero” is fabulous! Thanks for the pointer, and thanks for being healthy, alive, and kicking. Especially the kicking part.

  81. Holy Hot Tamales, BatWoman! I miss a day of reading and this glorious news is posted! HOOORAY! I’m thrilled for you, Twisty! Blame ON!

  82. That’s fucking GREAT! Made my day.

  83. womensspace.org

    Wonderful news, Twisty! I’m so, so glad.


  84. Wonderful news Twisty. May you blame on for many years.

    Huntsman spideys are almost pets in my family home in southern Aust, my mother would sometimes name them. One night lat summer I walked down the hall and spotted three close together on my ceiling, must’ve been some sort of reunion. They don’t rear, but they do jump and can sort of glide, and they are harmless (except the scare factor, they do tend to pop up and scare one). It’s the redbacks and whitetails and the Brown snakes we concern ourselves with, they are deadly.

  85. townofautumn.com/blog


    I’m new here but I love to share this anecdote about my father and his cancer:

    In his mid-60’s, he was diagnosed with stomach cancer and went the full chemo route, followed by radiation. He hated it (and tell me of anyone who doesn’t!) and shared with me, his oldest daughter that he had lost ALL his hair. Just in case I didn’t understand what “ALL!” means, he went on to tell me he had even lost his pubic hair! Eeyew… Ah, but the treatment was a success.

    Seven years later, a new diagnosis–this time it was liver cancer. Tests showed it was not metastatic but a different primary lesion. He was reluctant to do through chemo again. And after the second week, he told his doctor he wasn’t going to do it. So, the following week, the doctor started him on monoclonal antibodies. Which worked! He lived to be 84 and died from plain old age.

    Among all his legacies (one of which was as a Master Gardener) was the spindly old rosebush as the corner of the house by the driveway. After each chemo treatment (both courses), he would get out of the car and vomit on that same rosebush, not being able to wait to get into the house.

    Today, that rosebush is robust and lovely. It’s been thirteen years since its last chemo treatment and two years since my father’s death.

    Remember, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Trite but often true.

    I love this blog!


  86. such great news, twisty!

  87. I am so glad you are cancer free.

  88. hattie.typepad.com/hatties_web

    goblinbee: ever been bit by a centipede?
    My daughter who was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 25 has been cancer free for six years.

  89. Hattie that’s great, but how terrible that one so young has had to deal with that.

  90. reclusiveleftist.com

    Twisty, this is wonderful news. I’m so happy for you, and so relieved.

  91. faultline.org/place/toad

    Wow, what a thread. Not only gorgeous bugs and great news, but absolutely the damnedest gardening anecdotal recommendation I have ever heard in my life.

  92. Hattie, no, I have not. What would you liken it to?

    I did co-exist with them once. When I lived in the mountains in Japan for a year, the sound of the enormous red-legged centipedes scuttling across my tatami-matted bedroom floor would sometimes wake me up (scritch! scritch! scritch!).

    I don’t think it occurred to either of us (me or the centipedes) to do the other violence.

  93. barlyru.blogspot.com

    Your news makes me so fucking happy. I’m beaming!

    Also, I’m never going to Australia. Not even on a bet.
    New Zealand, however, is looking real good.

  1. Feminist Law Professors » Blog Archive » Interesting Things To Read

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