So after a lot of help in the general woodworking section on lumber selection, I decided to go with poplar and baltic birch plywood for my desk project. I've been working pretty steadily and making good progress, most of the intricate work on my base is finished. Tomorrow I have to finish the panels and then glue up all four bases (two for a corner desk and two for a matching straight desk). I'm excited to get that done with, because then I get to make the desk top and it'll finally start looking like something.
This is the biggest furniture project I've done yet, so I'm excited to see it take shape. It was intimidating to get started, but it's like the saying goes: "How do you eat an elephant? . . . .. . One bite at a time."