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Ask An Aries: Why Are You So Brave?

Astrology
Illustration by Lindsay Hattrick

Below, some of the bro-y drama queens of the zodiac answer our questions

Spring has sprung and Aries season is officially upon us, a fact I was reminded of, incidentally, while walking around Greenwood Cemetery in Brooklyn just the other day. If this locale is not known to you, let me state that Greenwood Cemetery is most certainly a cemetery, but also, it is a resplendent green space in Brooklyn's southwest side. Residents and non-residents alike are drawn to Greenwood. Some seek the graves of famous people (like Jean-Michel Basquiat and Leonard Bernstein); some seek the permanent public art installations, like that of Sophie Calle; and some—my ilk—seek a glimpse of the Argentinian parrots that have made home in the spires of Greenwood's grand gothic gate.

That's right, you heard me—parrots. Bright green birds completely incongruous with New York's otherwise dark-feathered critters (the ever-sleek pigeon wearing black and the ducks with their sparse splashes of color). All last season I sought the parrots after one January morning when I encountered them quietly feasting on the last berries of winter. Well, March is here, Aries are emboldened by the sun's blessing, and the renegade parrots were emboldened likewise—loudly calling to one other, exuberant with color, and charging the air with their very presence.

This month, I asked two of the boldest and brightest Aries I know to tell me what being an Aries means to them. The first, Maureen Catbagan, an artist, music-maker, and visionary so luminous I gotta wear shades when we hang. The second, is Gabriel Ramirez, a poet, performer, and floral print angel I've had to pleasure of sharing many space and stages with. Unlike the meandering, self-searching, answers of Pisces or an Aquarius, these Aries' answers shot from the hip. Their unabashed self-belief, their forthrightness, is an example for those of us who—having marveled at renegade birds—mean to become a little more renegade ourselves.


Maureen Catbagan

What is one image or belief about yourself from childhood that you still carry with you? Are there moments when that belief feels exceptionally threatened? Exceptionally bolstered?

I tend to get to the heart of things because, when I was young, I moved around a lot, so I've felt the importance and immediacy. Difficult talks are hard, but I know that once we get through it, a deeper connection grows.

Throughout your life, has there been one particular artist/thinker/maker whose creative approach or ideas served as a foundation/diving board for your own? Who?

Barbara Hammer is my jam. Her energy and curiosity is endless, playful, and fearless. She would contort in every which way to see every possible angle and possibility...

When you're in the boxing ring with your hard feelings—insecurity, shame, anger—what strategies have you got for knocking them down?

Remembering my cold showers, because nothing else has a chance if I already punched my face in the morning...

Do you have other Aries in your life? What do you love about them? What's difficult for you about them?

Many, as we seem to instinctually rove in packs. I love how we get excited about each other's ideas. But, we do have our meltdowns which is the downside of all the highs and high fives.

What evokes gentleness in you?

When I see vulnerability in people and things, it hits me in the heart. I've been crying over BBC Reels lately...

What are you working on now and how can we find out more about you and your fire self?

Many things to keep me on my toes. Collabs all around. Abang-guard with co-artist/performer Jevijoe Vitug that explore labor, immigration, and visibility. Critical theory essays with badass co-writer Amber Jamilla-Musser. Dark romantic music with Angel and Lee Favorite in PXALM. Fashion antics with Erin Connolly at @everything_is_reversible in Insta. Check out MaureenCatbagan.com


Gabriel "Agave Papi" Ramirez

What is one image or belief about yourself from childhood that you still carry with you? Are there moments when that belief feels exceptionally threatened? Exceptionally bolstered?

I'm super-emotional y cariñoso. For better or for worse. Sometimes my emotions get the best of me. In the past, people would take my sweet nature for weakness, and they probably still do, but as an adult, I learned so much about myself and the kind of people I choose to keep close so I'm good and my homies ready for whatever. Everybody get the same amount of love until I can trust them with more.

Throughout your life, has there been one particular artist/thinker/maker whose creative approach or ideas served as a foundation/diving board for your own? Who?

Both my brothers are creative. They taught me about poetry and rapping, and I'm just starting to believe that (as I write this) everything I do is an homage to them and all the artistic people in my bloodline. Like, for real, everything I do, I do for them. Common, Outlast, and Langston Hughes are also the big homies.

When you're in the boxing ring with your hard feelings—insecurity, shame, anger—what strategies have you got for knocking them down?

When I was really down for the count, I used to binge on really crazy unhealthy foods. Now that I'm a vegan, I go and binge on a big salad. Otherwise, I'm burning Palo Santo, listening to lo-fi hip-hop instrumentals, dancing to DuckWrth and Smino in the street and on the trains in NYC. I watch Parks and Rec or The Office on Netflix, I cook food for myself and my loved ones, stuff like that.

Do you have other Aries in your life? What do you love about them? What's difficult for you about them?

I have a lot of Aries in my life that I love and care about. The main ones that come to mind: Jonah Mixon Webster, Noel Quinones, Ashley August, Mikal Amin Lee, t'ai freedom ford. I love their drive and creativity. I love how (much) they love me and how I love them back. The only thing difficult is when I feel like I can't love them the way they deserve to be loved. Also, that could be me thinking I don't do enough but, when I see them, I make sure they know what they mean to me.

What evokes gentleness in you?

W/e I see displays of gentleness and tenderness and humanity. When I see good people being helped through their hard time. When someone I admire and appreciate, like YOU, asks me questions about who I am. When I get to facilitate poetry workshops for the youth I get to work with through URBAN WORD NYC, which nurtured my baby-poet-self. Watching Lilo and Stitch or Coco. When my loved ones and I read each other's favorite poetry to one another. Talking to my mom on the phone and her telling me she just wants me to be happy and healthy. And, hugging people and them telling me they really needed that or, that it was the best hug they've gotten in a while.


What are you working on now and how can we find out more about you and your fire self?

I'm part an amazing ensemble at BAM in Brooklyn called WORD. SOUND. POWER. Tickets are almost sold out, and I'll be doing poems and rapping, which a lot of people don't know I'm good at. I just launched my website, RamirezPoet.com. I've been posting all this footage of my poems that I've been sitting on for really long, and I'm just happy to have more video of me doing poems in the world. More importantly, I'm getting focused on my well-being and my health. I found a therapist, physician, and nutritionist. I'm going to the gym to workout with my personal trainer, John Perez. I'm getting my mind right, my body right, and my spirit right. This year has been a big mix, but I'm focused on coming out of 2019 better than I've ever been.