It all seems to work for me. Am I too much of a Linux noob to appreciate these problems?
If you think that stuff seems interesting, go for it. I'd recommend you install Gentoo in a virtual machine for the fun of it, and to learn about things like init systems, filesystems, software dependencies, etc.
The correct way to use Linux is whatever way you're using it.
No you're not a noob. All the nonsense I used to go through was just that... nonsense.
These days it's quite rare I need to dip into that toolbox, but I'm regardless quite glad I learned everything Gentoo taught me. It's often made the difference between "oh that's unfortunate, let me fix it" and "shit, I need to re-install".