I've lived in Southern California for nearly 14 years now. I came here from Michigan, where I'd felt exactly one earthquake in my entire life. That one was a door-rattler, it felt and sounded very much like an extremely large truck was driving past on the street.
Since 1996, we've had a nice assortment of quakes, none of them strong enough to cause damage locally, or at least not much. I remember the first "biggish" one, it woke me at night, and felt very much like my bed was a boat on the gentle swells of a lake. Up and down, roll a bit.
Most of the others have been of the same variety, though some of them have begun with a fair-sized bang!! and a sharp drop of the earth, to continue with the aforementioned rolling. Some are very noisy, with a subterreanean grinding that makes your hair stand on end, and the house rattling, even some things on shelves dancing about. There's a perceptible difference between a quake with a close epicenter and one farther away.
Today, though, the one that was centered in Baja was a bit different in quality. It started out gently, with a side to side motion unlike any I've felt before. Then after 10 or so seconds, it got stronger, still side to side. It was quiet, not noisy, and it made all the hanging plants out in the garden sway. Although there was minimal rattling and banging, our door chimes, which are long metal bars, began to sound, which has never happened in a quake before.
I hope that the people in Baja come out of this all right. When the earth won't lie quietly, it can be very disturbing.