UPDATE: got the new pipe mounted. had to take it apart, it just couldn't be maneuvered into place in one piece.
Couldn't have done it w/o another local miata guy Evan / slacker2223, thanks man!
finally got it mostly back together, but with a couple of questionable things:
1) i only have 3 of the 4 nuts holding the turbo to the manifold
2) one of the studs at the turbo->dp sheared
3) another one is very hard to get back on so i left it off for now.
I intend to take the car to a shop around 8 miles away so that they can fit a little extension on the cat and adjust the flange angle so it mates better.
It's light traffic / no highway, so i can stay out of boost... any danger to driving the car w/o all the studs / nuts in place?