Outline stroke is what you're looking for - it will take the stroke around the "g" and make it into a compound path that you can then use with the pathfinder to chop off your "n" Holler back if you need more detail.
Have you already explored AI's Pathfinder?
There are several ways to get what you want. A Knockout group would be an alternative, for example, but since you're saying you're a newcomer I wouldn't recommend that route as it takes some more knowledge.
Start with Pathfinder.
Yes, I will need a bit more detail. Do I need to select all the objects? Do I need to group them? I need a step by step. Again, I am only a week into this. Thank you so much. My hair is already starting to grow back.
Type -> Create Outlines of your g and your n, (if you haven't already)
Select your "g" and Object -> Path -> Outline Stroke. This will leave you with a group containing your stroke (now a compound path) and your fill.
Put your outlined stroke above your N in the layers panel. (not essential, but if it's not the next step is different)
Select your outlined stroke and your n and from the pathfinder panel, "exclude" (top row, far right)
This will give you a group containing your cut shapes. Ungroup. Delete outlined stroke. Profit.
Ok, we are getting somewhere. Thats a whole lot of steps to do a simple knockout but it worked, thank you.
The only problem was when I outlined my letters in "clean" I lost my gradient fill. When I tried to add it back it puts the gradient in each individual letter not the word as a whole. I am sure I was supposed to prep something properly and I did not. Do I have to do this over or can I fix it from here?
It now looks like this:
Wait....I did it!! I selected the letters, then chose Object>Compound Path>Make
Then I reapplied the gradient. Sweet.
Now, for the last part, how do I join all of these elements into a single object?
Select all the elements, right click, group. Incidentally you can right click, (Option-click on a Mac) and isolate the group. This allows you to edit individual pieces of the graphic without having to un-group. You may say "how does that save time?" It don't. It allows you to make edits without effecting any other elements in your graphic. This will become painfully evident when you combine several graphics together in an layout. I use the select by color tool, (Y on the keyboard shortcut list) and then the (I keyboard short cut) copy attributes all the time. You will see the need to isolate the graphic in time.
I just saved it as an eps file. Not the right way to do it but functional none the less. Plus my original file is still editable. I would still like to figure out how to group all objects and text as a single vector object.
You can't have them as "one object" with different fills. You can have them as a group, as mojo said.
Ahha.. Ok, its the fill types that are keeping it from happening. Thank you for that understanding. You guys have been great.