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January 8, 2013

20 Questions: A Day in the Life of Robin Marantz Henig

Posted by tbrmaureen

In 2010, Robin Marantz Henig wrote a cover story for The New York Times Magazine titled, "What Is It About Twentysomethings?" that posed a question to readers, asking why people in their 20s are taking so long to grow up. After a lot of debate on this topic, Robin, along with her daughter Samantha Henig, decided to dig a little deeper into this theory, to see if people in their 20s today really are taking longer than their Baby Boomer parents to grow up.

In their new book, TWENTYSOMETHING: Why Do Young Adults Seem Stuck? they answer some questions about this, and find some new answers as well. We thought it might be fun to have Robin and Samantha answer our "20 Questions" to see what the differences are between Baby Boomers and Millennials. Below, Robin shares what a typical day is like for her, and we hope to share Samantha's with you soon, so stay tuned!

1. What time did you wake up?
My alarm goes off at 6:32 -- I set it that way in order to help me remember a PIN number a bank once gave me -- but I've become a master of the snooze button, and I kept hitting it till about 7.

2. Did you make your bed?
Funny you should ask -- yes, I did! I usually wait until about 9:15 when I call my mother and make it while I'm talking to her. But I always am sure to make my bed before lunch.

3. Where did you spend your day?
In my home office, AKA my living room.

4. Who did you see/call?
Today I'm not working on a story, just trying to figure out what my next project should be, so I didn't have any interviews scheduled. So the only people I saw were my husband Jeff and my daughter Jess, who's living with us temporarily until she finds an apartment in Brooklyn. Also Jess's dog Huxley, who I guess counts as a "who."

5. How many times did you check Facebook or Twitter?
Too many times! Twitter probably about once an hour (through Tweetdeck), Facebook first thing in the morning but it's now becoming so much a retread of what I see on Twitter that I kind of have given up on it.

6. Did you respond to reader mail?
Does responding to this questionnaire count?

7. What did you do on a book project today?
I'm thinking about writing my next book about death in America, so my book-related work today involved watching a documentary I just got on DVD (called "Consider the Conversersation"), running through the hundred or so links I've collected from my Google alerts for "death with dignity," "assisted suicide," and "end-of-life," and dipping into an amazing, classic book on the subject that I've been slowly making my way through, "The Denial of Death" by Ernest Becker.

8. How did you procrastinate?
Isn't that what Twitter is for?

9. What did you accomplish?
I did manage to do one thing I can point to: I brought over 4 bags of old clothes to the Salvation Army donation center on 96th Street.

10. What did you want to accomplish?
Making headway on my book proposal. Such accomplishments are only incremental.

11. What was the weather?
Rainy and chilly, a typical raw December day. Very gray.

12. What were you wearing?
Black pants, sweater.

13. What did you read?
Some of "The Denial of Death," some of a new article in National Geographic by my friend David Dobbs called "Restless Genes."

14. Did you listen to music, if so what?
I didn't listen to any today, but my favorite background music is listening to vocalists singing from what's known as the Great American Songbook -- Cole Porter, Stephen Sondheim, that kind of thing.

15. What was the healthiest and unhealthiest thing you ate?
Healthiest was an apple (Muji, from the farmer's market on Broadway); unhealthiest was a chocolate truffle from a small box of Godiva chocolates my husband bought me for no particular reason.

16. Did you exercise?
Only a quick walk from the Salvation Army donation center, about a mile and a half away. My only exercise is walking, but I usually try to do it really fast and to cover a greater distance, more like 2 or 3 miles at least.

17. What was the best part of the day?
Dinner with Jeff and Jess, and the cocktail hour that preceded it where we sat around and talked a lot.

18. What was the worst part of the day?
Waking up.

19. Any surprises today?
Alas, no.

20. What device did you use to answer these questions?
My laptop -- a MacBook Air that I love so much I haven't been able to justify adding to my armamentarium with iPads or smartphones.