Yes being brand new to SE comes with quite a few limitations. That is what the privileges system takes care of.
The 40 min wait you experienced is just for posting on the meta (it is really quite rare to get a brand new user asking a question here).
You will see there you need 15 rep to Up Vote anything. That takes care of the "+1" part of your question.
As Jaroslav Jerryno Novotny pointed out there is really no good way of subscribing to a post. All we get is the favorite button (sounds very much like what you want) and the RSS feed for each post. (Personally I have never used the RSS)
When you click on the star, below the vote buttons on a question, that question gets added to your favorites. When sorted by activity anything new (say an answer or an edit) will bring that post to the top of your favorites list.