By: Anne Elizabeth Moore
February 26, 2017

One in a 25-part series of nonfiction stories about objects of political significance. This is the first volume in the PROJECT:OBJECT series. Please subscribe to the P:O newsletter; and purchase P:O apparel and accessories — all profits will be donated to the ACLU!


Too many steroids (the go-to when other meds for my various chronic illnesses don’t cut it) and, uh, recent election results had my general practitioner deeply concerned about my blood pressure, which had gone Stage II Hypertensive in a matter of weeks. She prescribed a medicine with too many vowels and demanded I buy a heart-rate monitor, both of which “suggestions” I managed to completely ignore on the argument that I am a slim woman in my mid-forties who weighs 113 pounds, meditates every day, and has never had anyone say anything about her blood pressure besides, “Holy crap, that’s low. Are you even alive right now?”

I rethought my automatic rejection as the inauguration date neared. I remembered my GP asking through slightly gritted teeth as she removed the cuff from my arm, “Have you had any of the warning signs? Headache, chest tightness? Light headedness?” I hadn’t, at the time that she asked. But between the tossing around of cabinet appointment names and deepening concern for my all-Muslim neighbors, I started to. When the days-old 115th Congress bid to repeal the ACA — which could leave me with months to live — went down on January 5th, I felt tingly and strange. I caved.

I went with a LotFancy Blood Pressure Monitor on the sound if unscientific reasoning that it had the funniest name. Laughter is supposed to be good for the heart? Or something? Anyway the DBPOWER model struck me as a bit too aggressive for the job, the iHealth too cutesy, and Slight Touch… made me uncomfortable. Contrary to what you may be imagining, the machine is not fancy, not even a little bit. It tells me what I need to know, which is my systolic pressure (the amount of pressure exerted against my artery walls as my heart beats), my diastolic pressure (the amount of pressure exerted against my artery walls as my heart rests) and my pulse (the number of times per minute this pressure is exerted, each beat per minute being worse for your heart than the last.)

I use it every day. Weirdly, it’s become a rare source of good news in my life. Turns out — OK, we can see this reflected in politics too — surveillance really is control. For a while I could map news events to spikes in readings, but after some time, I figured it out: If I get up, make a handful of phone calls to various elected officials, eat breakfast, limit my coffee intake, work out, keep the news off, and meditate for 20 minutes right before I check it, I can achieve some semblance of a healthy heart rate. Unless the ACA repeal amps up again. Then all bets are off.

The LotFancy sleeps in my bedroom. It is not sexy, so I have to navigate that as a single woman who, ah, likes to “stay active.” Then again, it serves as a reminder of just how personal politics really are.


POLITICAL OBJECTS series: INTRODUCTION | Luc Sante on CAMPAIGN PAMPHLETS | Lydia Millet on PVC POLAR BEAR | Ben Greenman on MATCHBOX CAR | Rob Baedeker on PRESIDENTS PLACEMAT | L.A. Kauffman on WHEATPASTE POSTER | Astra Taylor on SALAM’S NECKLACE | Carolina A. Miranda on POCHO | Stephen Duncombe on PROTEST SIGN | Marisa Silver on SHAMAN BOWLS | James Hannaham on DR. BUZZARD LP | Virginia Heffernan on HRC PAINTING | Kenya (Robinson) on BURNER PHONE | Kathryn Davis on POLITBUREAU | Chenjerai Kumanyika on NAT TURNER PRINT | Alexis Madrigal on MERMAID COSTUME | Anne Boyer on ALL KNEES AND ELBOWS OF SUSCEPTIBILITY AND REFUSAL | Steven Heller on JFK DOLL | Anne Elizabeth Moore on BLOOD PRESSURE MONITOR | Gary Dauphin on RUM BOTTLE | Tom Frank on DNC PASS | Lizzie Skurnick on GROUP PHOTO | Stuart Ewen on SNCC PIN | Benjamen Walker on BEEF BOX 12″ | Rob Walker on CAMPAIGN SIGN | Alex Kalman on THEM=US PIN.

SIGNIFICANT OBJECTS at HILOBROW: PROJECT:OBJECT homepage | PROJECT:OBJECT newsletter | PROJECT:OBJECT objects (Threadless shop — all profits donated to the ACLU) | POLITICAL OBJECTS series (1Q2017) | TALISMANIC OBJECTS series (2Q2017) | ILLICIT OBJECTS series (3Q2017) | LOST OBJECTS vol. 1 series (4Q2017) | FLAIR series (2Q2018) | FOSSIL series (4Q2018). 12 DAYS OF SIGNIFICANCE | 12 MORE DAYS OF SIGNIFICANCE | 12 DAYS OF SIGNIFICANCE (AGAIN) | ANOTHER 12 DAYS OF SIGNIFICANCE . ALSO SEE: SIGNIFICANT OBJECTS website | SIGNIFICANT OBJECTS collection, ed. Rob Walker and Josh Glenn (Fantagraphics, 2012) | TAKING THINGS SERIOUSLY, ed. Josh Glenn (Princeton Architectural Press, 2007) | TAKING THINGS SERIOUSLY excerpts.


Codebreaking, Spectacles