I guess that what I want is for my machine to find a wireless network and to try and draw an IP dynamically. Does it work this way? This is my first experience with wireless...
Not quite, your missing a step. You have to load the driver, configure the card so it associates with the accdess point and THEN you can request an IP.
wlan0 IEEE 802.11g ESSIDff/any
Mode:Managed Frequency:2.462 GHz Access Point: Not-Associated
Here is the problem. You don't have an ESSID set and you haven't associated. You use the iwconfig command to set the SSID:
iwconfig wlan0 ssid YourSSID
You need to run that as root. Once you've done that, you should see the ESSID field now contains the SSID and the Access Point field should have a MAC address if it is associated. If you see both of those, then run dhcpcd wlan0 and that should request an IP address. If that is successful, you'll see that IP address in the output of ifconfig.
One bit we haven't talked about is encryption. If you have it on, temporarily turn it off and just test if you can configure the card and get an IP address. If that works, using encryption works one of two ways. If you use WEP, you use the iwconfig command to set the key:
iwconfig wlan0 key WEPKeyInHex
If you use WPA encryption (which is a much better choice) You'll need to run wpa_supplicant. There is a section of my website that discusses how to configure and use it. Slackware has a wpa_supplicant package that works nicely. You can find it in extras.