Things are somewhat better at work; the problem I've been banging my head against for two weeks isn't exactly resolved, but we're taking a new approach that should hopefully at least clear up the logjam and we can go back and come up with better options later.
Weird thing is, the parts of this project that I have control over, I'm actually quite proud of. For various reasons, this is the first time we've built a site using the more modern iterations of ColdFusion, so I'm finally getting to play with the "object-oriented ColdFusion" model. So I'm doing all sorts of neat things with passing structures to functions as parameters and getting back new versions, etc. — it's a much cleaner, more secure way to code, and much more in keeping with the principles of keeping logic separate from presentation.
It's just the whole "sending complex objects to web services" thing that is killing me — and apparently, I'm not the only one. CF doesn't like objects being inside other objects, and no amount of banging away at it is going to change that.