After taking a hint from one of the more recent posts, I have gotten my phone to boot. But it's not a permanent solution. AND, I have only been able to do it because I installed a temporary boot of EL29 a while back. So this solution won't help anyone that doesn't already have that, OR is unable to put it in their device.
To see what I'm talking about, check out QBKing77's video about it here:
It has the links you need to accomplish it as well. and while you can Odin the kernel required, you might not be able to get the multiboot folder onto your device. If anyone with this problem cares to try this, I would suggest getting a hold of an SD card adapter that you can use to plug into your computer and place the multiboot folder onto the micro SD, and see if it will run from there. I placed it on the internal SD myself, as per QB's instructions, so I'm not certain it will run from the external SD.. but it might.
As stated though, I don't consider this a permanent solution... especially since there are limitations to what you can do with this install. It is intended as a temporary boot to update profile and PRL.
So my real question is: Could I now try to reformat the /data partition while I'm booted into this temporary mode? if so, does anyone have any insight as to how I might do that?
Any further help with this would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks to everyone that has attempted to help thus far, especially SFHUB.
and thanks in advance for future efforts.
edit: so at least my phone is functional. but I just realized this temporary boot does not allow root privileges, so that might create a problem in trying to format /data, I'm thinking. *sigh...
edit2: one last thing before I catch some zzzz's : I copied the multiboot folder over to external SD and have verified that it does boot. Also, changes are saved; I thought I would lose data such as installed apps etc.. but this temporary boot acts just like any normal install-- just that it's stock GB (bleh)..