In response to this post, and a little talking outside of it, I got some great recommendations from _r3_, vuduchile and eldritch48 (thanks, guys!) as far as camera choices go. Over the last couple of days, I've been looking around for a Canon EOS 20D that I could simply take a look at, as the plan was to wait until later in the year to avoid more finance charges on my credit card.
Yesterday, I struck gold... Circuit City in Greensboro not only had a 20D available, but they were also running a no-interest finance deal on at least the digital photography and video section of the store (for 17 months, anyway... piece of cake). Seeing as how that would allow me to avoid the reason that I was waiting, I went for it.
I walked in yesterday after work (after finding where the store had moved to... a mile or so from where it was when I lived up here), found the camera, applied for store credit, was approved a couple of minutes later, and bought the thing. I ended up paying a couple hundred more than I might have if I had shopped around a bit more but, considering I don't have $1300+ at this exact moment to put down for a camera, I would have made up at least some of the difference in finance charges anyway.
After playing around with it for a couple hours last night, I have the basics down. It'll take me a while to master the rest, though... for one thing, this is my first time using a camera that's even remotely this powerful. I have a feeling that I'll catch on pretty soon, though.