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Drinking Coffee with Writers: Katarina Hybenova

Photo by Maya Harsaniova

One day, while I was walking down the street in Bushwick, Brooklyn, I witnessed a building go up in flames.

I was close to the fire, and my millennial brain propelled me to whip out my camera and snap away. I didn’t just want to post them on social media, though, so I emailed them to a local news website called Bushwick Daily.

Editor-in-chief Katarina Hybenova responded, publishing my photos within minutes.

No one was hurt in the fire, so I felt slightly less guilty about the process of witnessing and reporting on something. In the end, I thought, “why not give local journalism a try?”

I submitted myself as a contributor, and a week later I was sipping cocktails on a sun-soaked patio with 10 other writers and Katarina herself.

Immediately, I knew she’d be a blast to work with. She’s was a platinum blonde boss babe with an amazing sense of humor, and she called me Mishka, which I appreciated—it’s one of my nicknames, yanno.

I soon learned that she’s also a stellar content manager, thoughtful editor, and natural leader.

Her resume includes positions as digital editor at massive local news website QNS, as well as founder and editorial director of Bushwick Daily. She was also a 2014 fellow at Tow Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism.

…oh, and she used to be a lawyer. How badass is this gal?

I thought she would be the perfect person to interview for the launch of our brand new series, Drinking Coffee with Writers.

Below, check out her top tips for writers and discover how she spends a typical day (hint: it involves getting up at 5:30AM to write).

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Digital Nomad Diary: Wading With Ghosts in Cambodia

The following is a guest post from writer & graphic designer Maria Gotay. Maria quit her job and is backpacking across Southeast Asia, documenting the journey for DJO.

There’s a feeling that pervades the arid, uncluttered landscape of Cambodia.

It’s the same feeling that you see in the faces of young fruit vendors, broken-back farmers, English speaking tour guides, eager school children and nearly-blind beggars.

It’s a country slowly recovering from a devastatingly brutal history, nursing and re-attaching its warn-torn pieces.

It’s a people that are regretful but resilient, fears and hopes tied nowhere but to the future: the dreams of their children and the progression of their nation.

The seas of change are slowly rolling in—tourists and expats recognizing the spirit of this place, the next generation’s intentions gently floating to the surface.

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Digital Nomad Diary: What It’s Really Like to Travel Alone in Nepal

The following is a guest post from writer & graphic designer Maria Gotay. Maria quit her job and is backpacking across Southeast Asia, documenting the journey for DJO.

I was sitting upright, half asleep in a Xanax-induced slumber, when I felt the bus lurch.

I shook the sleep away and came to.

It was sometime between night and morning, darkness surrounding our vehicle on all sides, the only light pouring into my squinting eyes the flashing Bollywood music videos on the LED screen ahead.

Although the space beyond the bus was pure black, the bus rocked unevenly and I could feel our proximity to the edge of something.

The Darjeeling Express tumbled violently forward, tossing me into my seat neighbor, a wide-eyed boy who looked equally frightened.

The horn blared five times in a row as we swerved around a very steep corner and the terrifying reality that I might die on this bus hit me hard.

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Digital Nomad Diary: Vietnam Has Everything

The following is a guest post from writer & graphic designer Maria Gotay. Maria quit her job and is backpacking across Southeast Asia, documenting the journey for DJO.

Vietnam has everything: the good, the bad, and the ugly.

I encountered it all on my month traversing the entire country by foot, bus, boat, train, and motorcycle.

As the epic journey fades in the rear view of my memory, however, I’m glazing over the trying parts of the trip and coming to savor the things that make this country so very unique, and why every curious traveler should put it on their bucket list.

So whether you’re a foodie, nature fanatic, culture buff, adrenaline junkie, or people lover, you’ll find these elements harmoniously abundant in Vietnam.

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The Benefits of a Digital Detox (& What It’s Really Like)

It’s a hot topic right now: the benefits of a digital detox, and whether more of us should be taking one.

As a member of the grew-up-on-the-internet generation, I’ve wondered whether I might discover some new sense of peace from one.

Whether I might be a better person if I were to be prevented from scrolling absent-mindedly (and consciously—social media is part of my work, after all), through the unending onslaught of content for a few days.

I tried it—at least partially. I cheated a little. But the experience was still pretty profound for someone who considers the internet a central part of her existence.

Here’s how it went.

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Digital Nomad Diary: Feeling It All In North Cambodia

The following is a guest post from writer & graphic designer Maria Gotay. Maria quit her job and is backpacking across Southeast Asia, documenting the journey for DJO.

I had a transcendental moment somewhere in the dusty jungle of North Cambodia.

It was historical, spiritual, cultural, revelatory in its completeness.

At Angkor Wat, I found myself at the holiest site on earth, a twenty-minute tuk-tuk drive from Siem Reap, one of the liveliest, scrappiest, and fastest-growing young cities in SE Asia, still just miles from the most rural villages I’ve ever been to.

While the ruins are ancient and the hotels are brand new, time is fluid, and the people who built them have been here all along.

Cambodia’s people are hardworking and have worked hard for a long time; conditions in this country have been devastatingly difficult, and with the recent boost in worldwide attention, life is finally getting easier.

We came here to learn about ancient cultures.

We left learning about modern ones, too.

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Digital Nomad Diary: Roads Less Traveled In Bangkok

The following is a guest post from writer & graphic designer Maria Gotay. Maria quit her job and is backpacking across Southeast Asia, documenting the journey for DJO.

Everyone I’ve encountered has a slightly different take on Bangkok. Some love it, most hate it, everyone can agree: it’s a crazy place.

Thailand’s glittering LED heart is a massive city of millions and the undisputed capital of Southeast Asia.

A whirlwind three days later, I’ve had some unexpectedly enlightening experiences, and Bangkok has only begun to reveal its colorful cultural underbelly.

The crazy city with all the options requires some digging; while the major attractions are cool, the real BKK scoop ain’t in your Lonely Planet guidebook.

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Digital Nomad Diary: Finding Authenticity In Thailand

The following is a guest post from writer & graphic designer Maria Gotay. Maria quit her job and is backpacking across Southeast Asia, documenting the journey for DJO.

Thailand: tourist destination of 29 million per year.

Southern Thailand is the top spot for many of those tourists, home to some of the world’s most pristine beaches, well-traveled island chains, cheapest massages, and coconut-y curries.

It’s a dizzying melting pot of beautiful seascapes and westernized waterfronts, flocks of backpackers who don’t mind a stunningly touristic experience, and a community stamped on by foot traffic.

We fell in line with the ambitious travelers around us, hopping from land to sea and back again, journey powered by ferries and long-tailed boats, motorbike and tuck tuck.

Our mission: to soak in the rich ocean views everywhere we went.

Coinciding mission: do it in a respectful and authentic way, try not to let the sun-soaked spiral of the tourist tornado define our experience. And we succeeded—sort of.

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