First off, welcome to your consumation!
My default answer to anyone who asks what it takes to brew beer is to say 'if you can make tea, you can make beer.' The analogy holds true in many respects, especially if the person is extract brewing. In that same breath (as any Southener knows), it is also really hard to make sweet tea that will hold its flavor for two months or more. In essence, this is what beer making requires.
That leads to the first point; sanitation. A lot of books and instructions will say this is very important. That is an understatement. If you think about it, what beer brewers do is create an environment that is ideally suited to making little buggers grow and multiply. Through proper sanitation we ensure that only the buggers we WANT are the ones growing. There are several threads of very advanced brewers who have wasted dozens of gallons of beautiful beer because of contamination. I have heard of breweries who have had to shutdown major portions of their brewery due to one type of bad bacteria growing. Me personally, I won't even come close to a towel if I plan on being near my wort post boil. It is better to have drippy hands than it is to have ruined beer. Avoid your pant legs, towels, counter tops, and kitchen faucets without washing your hands.
Second, and I blame a lot of kits for not pressing this enough, is to make sure you cool your beer quickly. If you are doing stouts and porters it is not so important as the chill haze will be masked by the darkness of the beer. If you are doing anything with any kind of translucence (e.g. lagers, pils, ales, etc.) I strongly recommend getting a wort chiller.
I myself rarely followed directions in the kits when I started. I was lucky enough to be in the area of a well accomplished and knowledgeable LHBS. If you are not so lucky then you probably want to follow the directions and/or look at some of the example recipies on HBT.com. I may be a new member, but I have been watching this site for a long time. Seeing as to how you are from Oregon you should be able to find several above average LHBS's within driving distance from you.
Regarding how long to worry about your primary fermentation, wait until the yeast cake and trub seem to stabilize. This usually takes 3 days, +/-. If you check SG regularly or can swing for a refractometer all the better, but I found that watching the yeast cake is a pretty good lithmus test. When you rack to the secondary you may get a yeast cake that is as large as in the primary, but you can always rack into the primary again. The point is you don't want to leave a large/thick yeast cake exposed to the wort/beer for more than 3-4 days. Otherwise you will end up with a beer that is very 'bread'y and that is the primary drive to have a primary/secondary/tertiary fermentation vessel. If you enjoy the yeast flavor (and i know many who do) then this a moot point and I wouldn't worry about secondary fermentation.
Lastly, if you are worried about information overload then I suggest a different hobby. Perhaps quantum mechanics or philosphy. Not trying to be a dick, but I personally have been brewing for about 10 years and I learn something every time I come to HBT. But don't let that discourage you. The basics of brewing beer takes 5 minutes to teach and a lifetime to learn. Think about it. Mankind has known how to brew beer for thousands of years and we are still debating when is best to add hops to a boil. Making beer is a case study in 'it depends'. That is why I love it and I hope you do too!