As a native Californian I can vouch for how you feel. It is true as you all have described, that each earthquake can be different in feel. One 4.5 quake won't feel like another 4.5 quake. We have had earthquakes where are house was fine, but the houses across the street had downed china cabinets, and cupboard spills. Depends which direction you are in. There are the fast hard shakers, you can actually hear. Then there are the rollers, no noise or shaking, just like the floor is moving up and down. My personal fear is the "combo rock n roller". It starts out slow and rolling, then the shake builds, and builds and gets loud. The Loma Prieta Quake of 1989 knocked people off their feet, and the damage was horrific. I still have PTSD from that one. When I am upstairs, and my husband closes the garage door underneath, it startles me so much my heart thumps.
California doesn't have the structural damage as most anymore because the law is earthquake retrofitting. All brick, and fireplaces have to be retrofitted, as all new structures. There was a flaw in the Bay Bridge, and it was old as why it came down.
Personally, I think weather has a lot to do with it, and you guys have had crazy weather. I recommend museum goop, or putty stuff to hold down nick naks you don't want broken. Do not put beds by windows, we molly " **crew frames, artwork, mirrors and china hutches to the wall. Keep wrench handy, and know where to turn off gas and water to house. Check ceiling fixtures, make sure they are sturdy.
A friend here on the boards went through months of earthquakes daily in the state she lives. This was back a few years. She tied cabinets together, kept valuables in car, and took down mirrors and such. It was a horrible experience.
I have been through many quakes, including the 7+ one. People survive, and here in the US we have such high building standards we can endure much. Usually when someone gets hurt, or worse it is due to falling items or a weak building collapsing. The new sky scrapers here in CA just sway, they are built to endure quakes. That is my comfort. Aside from all that fooey, they are the scariest thing on earth to me, and I've lived with them for 63 years
life is a banquet and most poor fools are starving to death!"