i really do appreciate all the effort.
--synthetic: no, i have never possessed a disc for the game. i just read that suggestion on older forums as i fished around for a solution.
--hishutup: do you mean like go to nvidia and redownload the drivers for my graphics card?
are you starting to see why I am at my wits end? like, the problem doesn't even make sense. somewhere along the line, i must have toggled or tripped something somewhere, and it's probably some stupid little thing, but i can't for the life of me... i see so many posts on so many forums similar to mine, but none of their solutions apply or have worked for me.
if it helps, the problem started when I was very near the end of the mythic dawn install (and it was looking so beautiful and was running so smooth and i was getting so pumped up for this playthrough!), when I was messing with the open / better cities stuff that the freeze first occured. and the problem has not changed since, after MANY reinstalls/uninstalls. same problem. so something I did THEN I think has to be the culprit.
on a positive note, in my quest to straighten this ought, my C drive is looking very clean and organized and I've removed maybe 200g of clutter and refuse =)