I’ve been riding an old GT (1994) for 6 years. I never did any maintenance other than changing the brake pads. That bike finally died and I just today picked up a 1999 Santa Cruz Superlight which I am SOOO excited about. I’ve been doing some research on it just to see what upgrades I might make and how I need to take care of it. I don’t know what any of the terms mean! I do better reading about things otherwise I would just go to the bikeshop and ask them questions (i wouldn’t remember the answers). Basically I don’t know what pivot is or travel or what the thing under the front bar is that FS bikes have. I don’t know any of it so I need some info a toddler could understand. Don’t worry, I definitely know how to ride.
Congrats on the new bike. With regard to terminology, bike anatomy, maintenance, etc. if you prefer to read the material the Dummies Guide to MTBing (book) may be what you’re looking for. You can view the TOC on Amazon.
With regard to upgrades the following link may be helpful:
Focus on really learning how to keep the bike clean, properly lubricated, and how to do a proper safety check before you think about tackling any other maintenance issues. Keeping the bike clean, specifically the drive train, will save you a ton a $$ and other maintenance in the long run.
Not that any of it is that difficult, but you’ll learn quickly that without bike specific tools, bike specific greases/oils, and a bike stand/work space it is simply not worth your time and effort to fool with more complicated fixes.
Investing in some proper cleaning kit and a bike work stand is probably the best place to start.