Ok thank you for your answer to a question (I should have known better)
Now that I have terminal access. I decided to peruse /var/log.
Nothing suspect appears under X.org logfiles, HOWEVER:
Could not init font path element unix:7100, removing from list!
Fatal server error:
Could not open default font 'fixed'
Under an educated guess, I looked inside my /etc/X11/xorg.conf .
sure enough, the FontPath is set to unix/:7100.
now is this normal for the xorg.conf... shouldnt it point to something like
/usr/X11R6/lib/X11/fonts or something?
it seems strange that the font path would be changed huh?
(not changing anything until I get advice from someone more knowledgeable)