Dude, first, welcome aboard.
Second, SLOW THE CLUCK DOWN!!!! First rule of sailing- throw away the watch. You get there when you get there, and it doesn't matter because getting there is what it's all about. So, slow down, starting now.
If i was in your shoes, and i was, I'd look for a boat in the 27- 30' range- big enough to be comfortable, small enough to be manageable, cheap enough you can afford to fix the mistakes you're gonna make. Don't spend more than $12K, and set aside another $3K as a reserve fund for repairs, upgrades, etc...
Look for a Cherubini Hunter 30, a Catalina 30, an O'day 30. All of these are production boats from the mid-70s-early 80s that will serve you well. Don't get hung up on brands, buy the best boat you can afford.
Take your time shopping for a boat and keep saving your money. Buying a boat is just the cover charge, maintenance and mooring are the lap dances of the sailing world- before you know it you can blow a couple of grand, easy.
Take courses, read, watch DVDs, and then sail... with crew. You won't have any problem finding crew. Get some time under your belt with a crew before you decide to sail solo.
Keep asking questions, and keep absorbing the answers.