Raspberry Jam Sandwiches

I like peanut butter and raspberry jam sandwiches. Have ever since I was a little kid. At first it was the all-American strawberry fare, but once I tasted raspberry for the first time, I never went back. I would always try (unsuccessfully) to spit out the seeds. The way they crunched in my teeth was annoying. Now, I love the crunch, and the nostalgia that comes with it.

My dad ate the same sandwiches with us when he’d come home, often ruining his appetite for dinner. He would pile so much peanut butter on the bread that it required a spoon to shovel it all on. With a quick glance over his shoulder to see if mom was watching, and a wink for me, he’d tuck in with gusto, relishing the whole mess.

Though his was the crunch peanut butter marked “DAD” and mine was a smaller, creamy peanut butter hidden in the back of the pantry (to avoid getting eaten by others), the sandwiches, a glass of milk, and a smile we shared together.

It’s funny, the memories that stick with you as you grow up, the little habits that lift you out of the moment and carry you back to the sunny days of childhood. You know there were a number of years where I rarely had a peanut butter sandwich at all. Dark days, those, filled with deli cold-cuts, iceberg lettuce, and honey dijon mustard, as adult as they come. The way I ate reflected my attitude in life, a desire to prove myself grown up. Because who eats raspberry jam sandwiches on their lunch break at work?

My dad ate those ‘healthy’ kinds of sandwiches too, but with fewer winks and the approval of my mother. The special moments were marked catching him with his spoon in the peanut butter jar, a kid at heart. I was pushing myself to grow up while he was returning to his youth.

While at college, during my first real brush with the loneliness of adulthood, I stood in the condiments aisle at the grocery store across from campus, looking at the jars of jams and jellies, recalling what I’d left behind since 15. I remembered my favorite brand, and a few shelves up, the more expensive organic kind my father preferred. I bought some bread (he ate wheat, but I grabbed white), a jar of raspberry preserves (my brand), and the peanut butter (creamy, not crunchy). At 19, it was personally imperative that, while I was my father’s son, I would not be my father.

Though the ingredients haven’t changed, my attitude has. I ate a raspberry jam sandwich today, and in thinking of him, knew that one day, my jar will be marked “DAD,” and my son will roll his eyes when I look around for my wife, give him a big wink, and dig in.

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2007: A Year in Review

This time last year, I was driving cross-country with my best friend, talking and planning out my goals and direction for 2007. I had just relocated to Tulsa, Oklahoma, and my goals were as follows:

  1. To build a stronger relationship with my brother
  2. To finish designing the web presence for his startup business
  3. To prepare for my career in feature-length filmmaking

Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad
I’m proud to say that my brother and I now connect on a much deeper level than in previous years, and that alone makes this past year a success.  Family is exceptionally important to me, when one flight can take you halfway across the world from everyone you know and love.

Additionally, we successfully collaborated on the visual presence and business plan for my brother’s new startup business.  It’s light on the details, but such things will come with time as the business matures.

The only real regret I have for 2007 is that I procrastinated in making preparations for my film career until the latter part of the year.  While the move (or lack thereof) has set my plans back further than desired, it has taught me an important lesson about motivation and self-government: don’t talk, do.

 In the Spirit of Doing
While not a conscious goal, last year I gave serious thought and consideration to where I’m at in life: the passions that drive me, fears that restrain me, personal strengths and weaknesses, et al. Through it all I came to a number of conclusions, some of which are:

  • Truth drives me, beauty inspires me, and both compel expression from me.
  • Volunteer ministry will always be a part of my life.
  • I feel complete when I have both a mentor and a student.
  • I love graphic design as much as I love filmmaking — and writing.
  • Friends and family are the most important asset wherever I go.

These realizations give direction and clarity to 2008, a kind of litmus test for personal achievement and happiness.  I’m not one who believes the purpose of life is to make oneself “happy”, but I do believe contentment can always be achieved when you know and trust both God and yourself (the latter in deference to the former).

The Next Chapter in Life

Two weeks ago I arrived in small town Pennsylvania, all of my belongings in cardboard boxes freshly unloaded from my family’s van and strewn about the black-and-white checkered tile floors of my first-ever apartment. My bed lay in pieces, wooden planks stacked against the wall and missing metal screws tucked away in some unknown corner of my belongings. Like the boxes, my life felt momentarily scattered, stretched between two locations over a hundred miles apart.

There’s an excitement, a terror that comes with moving away from the familiar landscape of your past. In the past 21 years I’ve left 9 different homes across 8 states, from the pine woods of Oregon to the green bayous of Louisiana and the urban sprawl of New Jersey; each time, the same sense of nervous anticipation was found waiting for me. This move, however, is my first away from all family ties, to a life completely distinct and individual from everything that has come before. The thrill of the move, which has become so familiar as to be desirable, is now coupled with a sense of complete helplessness, forced confidence, and unqualified trust in God.

Today, sitting in my newly furnished living room listening to the ambience of downtown Ephrata, I feel utterly secure and at peace. The anxiety has lessened, the reality well set in. In its own unique way, this apartment has become a home–my home.

The Last Days of Summer

All over America, thousands of students are gearing up for the inevitable back-to-school exodus with their shiny Yu Gi Oh! lunchboxes and jewel-clasped notebooks. Indeed, the new swag they sport will likely be for many the only joy in returning to class, a sort of unspoken bribe between parent and child to better handle the next 6 months of homework and study.

At 21 years of age, I am not far removed from their ranks and still feel the somber mood that comes with the onset of fall; though autumn eventually grows into my favorite time of year, it always starts out with a sigh, a lament of sunny days now ended. University classes are fast approaching, clients are buckling down their budgets until 4th Quarter, and the nation hits a mind-numbing, two-week lull.

The next few moments of life, before schedules are once again filled and priorities set, are like blank pages with no set preamble or postscript — with a little imagination, they could be the golden highlights of the year; a little consternation, and they become its anticlimax. I am compelled to work towards the former, and challenge you to do likewise.

How will you spend the end of the summer? Post your thoughts!

Magical Fire Master Boo

My family loves establishing holiday traditions, from little things like serving sparkling apple cider at Thanksgiving to opening that one present on Christmas Eve. July 4th is no different, and this Independence Day found us on the boardwalk in Ocean City, watching the fireworks burst out over the waves.

No holiday would be complete without my two beautiful nieces, who are just getting old enough to make life-long memories of special occasions and aren’t afraid of anything. The oldest (referred to as Boo) had forgotten all about the fireworks from last year and initially couldn’t figure out how they suddenly appeared in the sky. Then, in true Perini fashion, she had an epiphany: she must be creating the fireworks.

Soon after the discovery of her amazing powers, Boo began to make fireworks on request, asking everyone around her what their favorite colors were and giggling uncontrollably when a bright flash of their color lit up the sky. Her hands waved to and fro, almost as though she were conducting a majestic symphony of hues.

The show ended with a brilliant finale and, though surprised at the sudden disappearance of her powers, Boo appeared to be exhausted and refused to even try to create more fireworks, explaining that she was “too tired.” Yet every so often, we could hear a distant boom and catch, out of the corner of our eyes, little Boo waving her hand softly.

Putting the Past to Rest

This is my 21st New Year’s celebration. Over the past 21 years, I have celebrated the coming of the new year in roughly 10 different communities, with 10 different sets of friends, each special and precious in their own ways. As this year draws to a close, I can’t help but wonder, like the rest of the world, what next year will bring. Another move? Another war? A new love? An old hope? Sometimes I think I can see so far into my own personal future, but this year was a wake-up call.

I have no idea what tomorrow holds, much less February through December. It’s dangerously vulnerable, wonderfully peaceful.

Nature in the Hands of the God

Last night, somewhere between lightning striking and rain washing away the imperfections of this world, I stood, sort of just frozen by something like a realization–only, I’m not sure what the realization was.

Out past the driveway to my home, in the midst of the growing fog, I was humbled, or awed, or joyful… or any other precious spiritually emotional moment that the English language doesn’t quite do justice. A force greater than I had ripped away the escape of television, of net access, with a rather loud bang! moments earlier, and the quiet calm that settled in afterwards drew me outside.

My neighbors were tucked away safely in their darkened homes, and even our normally-boisterous pair of Jack Russells were asleep. I stood on the road outside, warm mist swirling and blurring the light coming from our front porch, wishing that I could share the moment with someone.

And so, I share it with you.

A Survey of Cultural Engagement

Last Movie Watched:
· Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Great)
Last DVD Rented:
· In America (Great)
Last CD Played:
· Pure - Hayley Westenra (Awesome!)
Last Book Read:
· Red Moon Rising (Awesome!)

Now it’s your turn…

In Pursuit of a Dream

This day marks the beginning of my pursuit towards filmmaking.

The days of bookselling, web design, and school life are ending quickly, leaving purely my faith in God and a passion to see this dream come true.

In two weeks I’ll be in Europe filming a cross-continental documentary, an experience that will help me to focus my plans and actions for my return to the US and full-time pursuit of film. We’ll see what happens, ne?

Mindblowing Doesn’t Describe It

I feel trapped, watching my mental picture of a best friend get slowly torn away, bit by bit, revealing someone I’ve never known before, someone that isn’t comfortable; someone almost too human. I don’t know if anything else in the world can recreate a pain as strong as this.