Thanks for the responses to all of you, I appreciate it. I feel the kind of feedback I'm getting here is a lot more candid and pertinent than anywhere else I've asked these kind of things.
To P.C.: I haven't taken the GRE and have only taken environmental science and Anatomy and Physiology at community college. Both were very easy but probably due to it being at CC. I haven't talked to any professor or scientist about my aspirations, with the exception of my uncle who works at a high level in NASA and has seemed to encourage me along this path somewhat.
I like the idea of a science policy position as some of you suggest, since I also enjoy political theory/policy. Would the biggest places for this be somewhere like the AAAS or NIH?
Here's another idea I've been kicking around. If I were to pursue science as a hobby then I imagine I couldn't get published in any journal, but in order to get a potential idea recognized if I were to find one could I network as a non-scientist with relevant scientists in the field and pass the information on for them to follow up with a study, for instance? I guess that would be easier if I were in a policy position?
I've only been looking at the science out there on the web for the last 8 months or so after being prompted by increasing health problems. I was thrilled once I could put a name to it (FMS/CFS, subclinical hypothyroid) knowing there had to be a scientific explanation as to the pathophysiology. Surely I don't have the medical background to make complete sense of every study but almost every day I've contemplated a new link or connection, find if it's relevant through pubmed or otherwise, add each annotated piece to a growing document, then build my own mini hypotheses and look deeper at the ones given the most credence. I'm finding that a lot of newer studies (many published just months ago) are confirming the suspicions and connections I've figured, and I've felt throughout the whole process exciting to be aware of the cutting edge of a small part of medical science (but which I also feel can fit a larger picture).
Regarding retirement as P.C. mentioned, this was an instrumental part of the idea I'm kicking around because I've "run the numbers" and found it feasible to retire (or rather, be financially independent) in my mid/late 30's IF I were moderately successful at work, didn't start a family which I don't want, lived exceptionally frugal as I do now, and invest wisely with moderate risk. Then I theoretically have the rest of my life to science? Ok I can hear the laughter across the net sounding overly idealistic here lol.