Yeah, unfortunately, I don't have many words of encouragement. The best advice I can offer at this time is look at the ads and see what they are looking for. There seems to be a good deal of suck to go around because companies are unwilling to make the effort to train people and managers are unwilling to hire based on "real" quality instead of paper quality.
When I sheer-dumb-luck ran across this guy (CEO of 20 - 30 employees), I went into full study mode. I took two weeks of reading hundreds of pages of tech docs and skimming thousands of pages in an effort to absorb over a dozen technologies. The third and fourth week has been to try to write some code, but as you can imagine, I've had very limited success; too much to learn too quickly. (I've been working my butt off weekends, some nights, and all holidays. I'm not sleeping very well right now.) Although I don't know much about the job or the company, I'm trying very hard to get this job. He's the first serious bite I've seen in a long time.
The take away I've gotten from my journey is that companies want you to look good on paper. The more your resume matches the ad, the better. Key words on high-demand jobs will also trigger phone calls. My key word was "Java". They completely ignored my lack of web experience or what I had been doing for the past 10 years. I even had a list of technologies on my website. "Java" was how I inadvertently got phone calls from head hunters, recruiters, (and in a few rare instances) HR. I'm into PHP now and it's my intention to write small programs and publish the code on the Internet so I can stand out in an interview, but this comment is very discouraging with that idea. (It's still my plan if this second interview doesn't yield me the job. I have to learn and keep up the skills somehow.)
I am trying very hard to figure out how sub-standard programmers get employed. Other than out-right lying, I cannot figure it out. I've never lied and I'm not about to start now, though.
Wisecat, I wish you luck in your journey. Be smart, keep at it, and don't become discouraged.