Joanie Caucus' life has paralleled those of a whole generation of women who, if not able to have it all, at least wanted the chance to try. Liberating herself from a disastrous marriage, Joanie joined the denizens of Walden Commune and regrouped, running a day care center and providing inspiration for the next generation of "baby women." She headed West and attended law school at UC Berkeley, in the course of which she also ran a congressional campaign for her roommate Virginia Slade. Slade lost, but the experience won Joanie a job in Washington, working for the victor, Lacey Davenport.

Joanie's two unsuccessful romances, one with a priest (Scot Sloan), one with a gay man (Andy Lippincott), were followed by a successful pairing with reporter Rick Redfern. A long cohabitation, followed by protracted negotiations, led to an outdoor marriage ceremony. Staff work in Congresswoman Davenport's home district in San Francisco led to a renewed friendship with old friend Andy Lippincott, cut short by his dying of AIDS.

Slipping her husband the occasional confidential report, serving as her daughter J.J.'s Lamaze coach, helping to negotiate for the release of zombified former Ambassador Duke -- Joanie's harried Beltway life as a Justice Department attorney is typical of her generation of career women. The fact that the birth of their child Jeff occurred in the midst of a Lamaze class made it that much more special. She and her husband have struggled with the modern insight that two full-time jobs and parenthood are not fully compatible. As she once put it to Rick: "I think you should quit your job."

Similar instructions were decisively delivered to her by her employer, the federal government, with the onset of the Bush era. Joanie's sudden transition from player to civilian was difficult. Resuming private practice just as the stock market tanked, Joanie has found herself at retirement age with no reasonable expectation of retirement. Further frustrations and ironies abound, as her formerly prominent MSM reporter husband struggles as a stay-at-home blogger, while their ne'er-done-well son Jeff is suddenly a best-selling author. Joanie shares a close relationship with granddaughter Alex, the two having bonded over the alienating solipcism of daughter J.J.

Inspired by Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Joanie was an early and enthusiastic supporter, and joined Warren's Senate campaign, Alex occasionally serving as driver and volunteer coordinator. The abrupt and fortuitous moving out of Alex's roommate provided a welcome opportunity for Alex and her Gram to also be part-time roommates.

After Warren's election, Joanie returned to her D.C. life and assumed the alpha-parent role vis-à-vis returned-son Jeff, now living in the basement and trying to save a foundering career writing as The Red Rascal. Enforcing a strict regimen of hours at the keyboard and rent payment, Joanie has proved a harsh and helpful taskmaster.