This reply has been on my mind since it was posted, but I've had a hard time coming up with a response. I think what I'd like to say is that while trade school is probably a good idea, it seems a bit weird to go for when I plan on going back into academia as soon as possible.
As an update, one of the universities I applied for got back to me today and I've been waitlisted, and I suspect I stand a decent chance of getting accepted. The only problem is there's no way I could afford it without a (frankly, predatory) loan.
I'm leaning on rejecting it, and sending off stronger applications next year, and hopefully getting some financial aid. I guess the question is if another year is worth $30,000 or so in aid?
Whether I accept the offer or not, it has given me a lot of confidence knowing that I've been considered by the tenth best university in my field. I've had a lot of self-doubt these last few months, but maybe I'm not as bad as I thought. Hopefully this can be the motivation I need to get that second article written, and maybe take some online courses.