I’m in LA this weekend, helping one of my clients do very important research (yes, life is tough.)

We decided to drive down, as these days it’s a wash between flying and driving to SoCal. It took seven hours to reach our destination today, seven hours of flat, straight, boring driving. When we drove for that long in Britain, we reached a different country. When you drive for seven hours in California, well, technically you’re still in the same state, but in reality, it feels like a wholly different country. Maybe even universe. I’ve been to a lot of very foreign places this year, but LAsia might be one of the most different.

When we went to dinner tonight, it was all I could do to wrench my attention away from our fellow diners long enough to appreciate our incredible view of the sunset. At one long table was a birthday party for a teenage girl, which kept expanding as new people arrived and asked to add chairs. It was a laid-back, casual family affair, with multiple generations partaking in the huge salad bar with equal enthusiasm.

About half way through our meal, a tall, skinny woman with long black hair and black clothing tottered in on chunky heels, her husband also dressed all in black. They were early, so sat down at the second huge table in the room and ordered tall drinks, talking on their phones while they waited.

When the rest of their party arrived, I didn’t know who to look at first. It was mostly men, all of them wearing skinnier jeans than I would ever rock, carefully messy hairstyles, and that aggressively nonchalant swagger that screams “hipster.” Their girlfriends were wearing outfits worth more than I’ve spent on clothing in the past year, and spent time telling each other about how law school is so hard they have to start drinking at 2:30 PM, or how they only gained 27 pounds during pregnancy and here’s how to lose the weight, etc.

Half of the party had Australian accents, two were pregnant, and every one was painfully, beautifully hip. We just don’t see creatures like that in Santa Cruz, and we never saw them in Portugal, so I was captivated. Luckily, the dinner was equally good, so my staring wasn’t too obvious.

Tomorrow, more adventures in LAsia, but first: I’m officially a published writer. Tada! (Click on the link for Summer/Fall 2010 on the right side of the page to download the PDF.)