You have my sympathy. It took me a *long* time to get my head around the line-noise factor in Perl. Once I did it became obvious, and I couldn't live without it now. Compared with pointers in C references in Perl are easy and reliable.
Python looks very cute, but I don't think that I can cope with meaningful white space in programs.
Finally I agree with chromatic - design first, and then implement it in anything that amuses you. Think about Forth as an alternative to Perl - it will give you a very different perspective on your design and your choices.