top of page

we love you get up

By Cara Eaton

A couple of weeks ago, I was trying to fall asleep, hampered by various stresses. I was mostly occupied with the fact that things ended with my boyfriend the day prior, which is quite the mentally draining situation. Even bigger than that were those old familiar questions that seem to have plagued me throughout my entire freshman year (which is now approaching its end), stuff like “Am I making the right choices in life?” and “Why did I do this or that or the other thing?” 

Basically, it’s been like that Talking Heads song where the singer impishly inquires, “Well, how did I get here?” and “Am I right, or am I wrong?” and ultimately exclaims, “My God! What have I done?” 

Anyway. At some point, I was reminded not of that song, which is actually not the focal point of this piece (perhaps next time), but rather, my favorite poem. It’s a piece by quintessential midcentury New York poet Frank O’Hara, succinctly titled “Poem” (descriptive, Frank!), but it is more well recalled by its subtitle: [Lana Turner has collapsed!]. It was published in 1964 and essentially recalls the speaker’s walk through New York City on a snowy day to meet someone. He sees a headline reading LANA TURNER* HAS COLLAPSED! This headline prompts him to ruminate on how the weather is better in California and how Lana’s predicament relates to his own life. The final sentences of the poem are what I really want to discuss: 

“I have been to plenty of parties /

and acted perfectly disgraceful /

but never actually collapsed /

oh Lana Turner we love you get up”


*The Margot Robbie of the 1940s

How the speaker approaches Lana’s humiliating situation has always resonated with me. He relates it to his own life in a very matter-of-fact way. Lana’s situation is similar becausewe’ve both acted disgracefully; Lana’s situation is only different because I’ve never actually collapsed. There is no mention of the biggest difference: his situation being one of an average Joe versus Lana’s of a highly-publicized siren of the silver screen. Both have humiliated themselves, that’s it. His advice? “We love you get up,” a simple string of words that manages to project reassurance, love, and encouragement to a woman who will never receive them.


The truth is, I’ve never approached my own life in this way. I’ve never given myself grace for the humiliating moments I’ve experienced. I am extremely hard on myself, defaulting to endless rumination on the string of questions I began this piece with. I tend to be a little solipsistic in approaching my decisions and their effects, falsely believing I mess up in a way specific to myself and failing to acknowledge that others may occasionally think the same thing about themselves. I am confident every reader of this piece can at least partially connect to these feelings of self-doubt and regret.


Well, what if none of us mess up in a way specific to ourselves? What if, like O’Hara, we can stoically acknowledge the “perfectly disgraceful” moments of our past, say, “Oh well, such things happen to everyone – even celebrities I admire!” and move on? What if we can also take pride in the moments we “never actually collapsed?” Those when we thought we were approaching an egregious mistake but, upon reflection, saved ourselves and realized the damage wasn’t that severe? And most importantly, what if we can take the ethos of “we love you get up” and see it through to ourselves? To attempt compassion and to move swiftly into the future without letting the past drag us down? The speaker shows no judgment of Lana’s behavior and no judgment of himself regarding his past.


I’ll be damned if I can’t at least try to adopt a similar mindset.


I hope the speaker reached the person he was trying to meet throughout the poem, but mostly, I hope he continued to go to parties and act “perfectly disgraceful.” I hope he can get up if he collapses and show himself compassion in the process. I hope I can have the courage to do the same, and I hope you can, too. And, if you ever see me acting disgracefully at a party or otherwise (okay, I was the one who spilled beer all over the Giles third-floor study couch, I’ll admit), I hope that serves as a reminder that we all experience moments of doubt or shame. What matters is how we respond.


I’m now reminded of another O’Hara poem, “Having a Coke with You,” in which he laments that famous Italian visual artists “were all cheated of some marvelous experience which is not going to go wasted on me.” In the same spirit, I refuse to be cheated of the marvelous experience of college (and life itself!) by a bit of self-doubt and regret. I swear, I’ll get up.

bottom of page