Cast Blog: #RHONJ

Baby Steps

Jacqueline talks about Ashlee's departure, Teresa's apologies, and the poker night fight.

Ashlee's send off wasn't as cold as it seemed. It was hard seeing it play out like that. Although she had only one day to pack before she had to leave, we did have a heart to heart talk before she left, a hug, a kiss, a few tears, and some words of encouragement. I wanted her to learn as much as she could while she was at her Aunt Mary and Uncle Tom's for those two weeks. She still didn't know that her dad was going to surprise her there and take her to Texas for the summer to live with them, work, and go to community college. He wanted to retrain her as much as he could and try to get through to her. Ashlee is lucky to have so many people in her life that love and care about her and truly want to help. We just needed her to want to get motivated and help herself. She could only come back home when she had a concrete plan in place that she was ready to execute.

Ashlee has this crazy fear of flying, so we had arranged for her to talk to someone and get some medication prescribed to her to help get her through the flight. Other than that, she is not on any medication. The morning Ashlee left, she still had not finished packing. She had gone out the night before to say good-bye to her friends, and the next morning was a scramble to get her out the door on time for her flight. I don't drive to the airport, because I'm afraid. I don't understand airport directions. LOL! I also needed to be home to pick CJ up from school, so Albie volunteered to take her. He's a good kid. I also didn't want to take the risk of fighting with her on the way to the airport and have to send her off like that either. We had said our proper good byes, and I needed to stand firm and strong, although it was killing me inside. Tough love.

OK, so she missed her flight, big deal, sh-- happens, so you just deal with it. Now I had to go through the good-byes all over again. I had a get together planned for the night that she was supposed to leave. I hoped it would help me not to think about it. I needed the company. Looking at myself, I can see how drained and sick I looked back then. I was in a bad place. Those times were not easy. I'm thankful for Chris, my parents, my brother and his wife, Mary, during those times for being my rock and helping me to cope with it all. Thanks to Chris, Ashlee finally made it on the plane.

I can't even talk about that last scene with me crying looking at Ashlee's scrapbook or seeing her as a baby without my eyes filling up with tears. When you have children, you only want to give them the best of everything and teach them everything you've learned so their life may be a little easier than your own. You want them to look back on a happy childhood and grow up to be happy adults. Nothing hurts more than when your kids are hurting, and if you can't fix a problem they have or teach them to how to fix it, it feels very defeating and worrisome.

I will admit I didn’t miss the fighting between Ashlee and me when she first left. It was actually a nice break. Of course, after a while, I began to miss her very much. I still do. I still always worry about her, but we are in a much better place now and I am very proud of her. I love her very much. She has come a long way. We both have. Lauren is my stand in daughter while Ashlee is away. LOL! I think Lauren is a beautiful girl with such a fun personality. When I hear her talk about her weight struggle, it breaks my heart. Lauren has never been one to eat a lot. She eats very healthy most of the time. She exercises quite frequently. I know it's frustrating for her when she doesn't lose the weight she wants. I think a lot of us actually feel the same way, so she is not alone on that one. Still, I can't stand to see her hurting over it. I wish there was something I could give her to make her see what I see. I wish you could all see how Lauren looks right now. She has succeeded in losing a lot of the weight that she wanted to lose, and she looks amazing! I'm so proud of her. If you are ever in Franklin Lakes, check out her beauty store, CafFace. It's beautiful.

The father-son moment between Richie and Joseph at the gas station was cute. Joseph looked a little uncomfortable, but he was very polite and respectful hearing his father out. He's a good kid. As far as the inappropriate email he got, it's funny how men are more lenient with their sons than their daughters in similar situations. I wonder if Rich would have been as laid back about an email like that if it had been his daughter at the age of 15 sending her private pictures to some guy on the internet. Somehow, I doubt that. LOL! It's a man's world, isn't it? I loved Kathy's reaction. She's too cute.
Let me tell you something about Melissa and Joe. I love their relationship. They are best friends. I don't care what anybody says, that couple is in love with each other. You can tell by the way they flirt with each other. You can see it in their eyes. I think Teresa is selling her brother short by saying that Melissa is basically a gold digger. Joey has many more amazing qualities to offer his wife than his money, and I'm sure Melissa sees that. I'm sure the money is just a bonus. The song to him was beautiful. It gave me chills. I love it! I downloaded it on iTunes. It touched me when he talked about how he felt about his wife and shed a few tears. I do think it was funny how their intimate romantic dinner started at opposite ends of a 10-foot long table. That was hilarious. OF COURSE it ended up in the bedroom. What did you expect? Anyway, I think they are a cute couple.

After the filming of Season 3 reunion, I had some time to self reflect, and although I was still angry and disappointed at times, I tried reaching out to Teresa to put our differences behind us and resolve things. I tried calling her, but when she didn't pick up or return my calls, I sent it in a text to her. I may have even tweeted something too. We didn't need to be friends, and it was OK for us to agree to disagree, but I just wanted the negative talk between us to stop. We are both guilty of talking about each other. Most people do talk negatively about the person that they are upset with, so I understand where it is coming from. Isn't that the same thing you all do when you are upset with someone? Some of you are very vocal on Twitter and I'm sure in blogs with all of us when you are angry. The funny thing is and that you don't even know us completely or even know the full story, so just imagine how intense it is for us? She and I both know what we feel each other has done to hurt our relationship, and we both have a different perception on the reality of it. We may never agree. One thing I know is that I lost a best friend who I loved and always had the best intentions for. I only wanted to help and I wanted us and our families to be friends forever. I hated watching her self-destruct. There are times when I'm still disappointed in things she did and said about me, and then there are times that I miss her very much. That is all normal.I was happy to have read in Teresa's first blog this season that she claimed to be in a much better place. It sounded like she realized her wrong doings and was trying to correct herself and move forward now. I thought, “Good for her.” That made me feel that somewhere inside of her, she was listening to me and now realizes now that I wasn't steering her wrong. I needed her advice too. I also was going through a hard time myself. I do understand that sometimes when someone is going through a hard time, it is hard to see the pain of someone else. I think she just needed time to get her own things in order. That was her priority, and I understand that now. I was happy to hear that she was on her way and doing well. I was hoping she could finally put away all the meaningless petty stuff that was making her upset and will now be concentrating on more important things. I hope she and her family will be able to reconnect and that this time it will be real and sincere effort. I honestly mean that. I wish it for my own family.

As much as I wanted to express what I was feeling at the time after each episode, after reading her blog, I started to change my mind. I felt like if Teresa really meant what she said in her blog about wanting to move forward, so there was no reason to regurgitate this past season. It would only open old wounds that we both have worked so hard to heal. I was willing to let it go. I realize that we were both right and we were both wrong. I wish her the best, and although I was happy to hear that she was happy, doing well, and appeared to have finally seen the light, a part of me felt sad that I am not apart of her life anymore.

Teresa said in her last blog, "I would love to resolve any of the outstanding issues from last year with my family and friends, because I do love them all, but it just takes time." With that, I waited patiently wait to hear from Teresa when she was ready, in her own time, to finally talk, since she never returned my calls or responded to my reaching out to her in the past. Then came the apology in InTouch. Now let's get to the truth. When I called Teresa, it wasn't as warm and fuzzy as I expected. The bottom line was that we weren’t able to reach a resolution. I don't think that she will ever understand other people's emotions or what a true apology is all about. I don't feel that our friendship will ever be what it was, but hopefully it will at least get to a better place. Baby steps!Speaking of apologies, I was glad when Teresa took my advice to apologize to her family and friends about her cookbook, although she never understood that she did anything wrong or admitted to how it could have hurt anybody. She just said the words with no accountability. Clearly she meant some malice in her book. Remember her conversation with Caroline on my front steps when she had said about Melissa, "Well if the shoe fits…" But apologizing was all new to Teresa, so baby steps, I guess.

After Teresa had apologized in my kitchen to everyone and there was that long period of awkward silence, I did approach Teresa to hug her and I told her I was proud of her for doing that.
Nobody was really talking about Teresa in a negative way before she got there. It was more about Joe not knowing how to handle Teresa, because every time he would try with her, Teresa would bad mouth his wife. It was hard for him, but he was trying to let it go. So was Melissa. I did my best not to say a word about it or get involved in their family drama, but I did suggest that he apologize for calling Teresa "garbage" and that even though I knew it came from a place of hurt, it was inappropriate and hurtful in itself. Once again, I'm always looking at both sides. I see everyone hurting, not just Teresa. If I could have ended their pain, I would have tried anything at that point to help them find resolve. I hate seeing anyone hurting.

The fight between Joe and Richie started out in play. They were busting each other's chops, like they always do, and when Joe grabbed Richie's balls, Richie grabbed Joe and flung him into the couch where Joe's eye hit an iron candle holder on the way down. Richie felt horrible about it, he called several times to apologize, but Joe wouldn't pick up. It was an accident. A candlestick actually gave Joe the black eye. It was all rough play gone bad. Boys will be boys.

Gia has become a little mommy. She's growing up so fast. She helps clean the house and tend to the kids. It's cute to see her in action.

I always give credit where credit is due, despite my feelings toward someone. I am very fair. I will say that I have always admired Teresa's ability to keep her head up with a smile on her face and persevere even during the roughest times in her life. Everything is always "fine" with her. Sometimes I wished that she would lean on her friends a little more than she did. That is what creates a special bond between friends. You allow each other to be there along with you, to help you through the difficult times. I was hurting knowing my friend was hurting, and I didn't know how to help.

XOXO! See you next week!

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Amber: I Felt I Like I Was Being Hazed

Amber Marchese dishes on her experience this season on #RHONJ.

We made it Housewife friends! As it was my rookie season, I felt like I was being hazed in a sorority, but as hard as it was, I made it! I learned so much about how strong I am as a person and some areas that I can work on. I learned that I really do have a “no surrender, never retreat” mentality. I will go to bat with anyone, at any time, and will defend myself and my family at all cost. I also witnessed the undying love that my husband has for me and his family. He was not going to let anyone hurt me and will unleash hell if someone tries. He is truly my modern day Spartan warrior. 

I am so blessed to have shared my experience and struggles with breast cancer -- the timing of my five year mark, the photo shoot, and growing my hair for five years then cutting it for charity -- it was nothing short of a miracle that the Bravo was able to catch that all. It was just meant to be and God was truly working his wonders. Cutting my hair was completely symbolic for me, since cancer no longer defines me. I will never forget, however the pain, fear, and anxiety is in my rear view mirror now. I can sometimes look back to remind myself where I came from, but it in no way defines my future. It is my promise to all of you, I will never take that for granted, especially knowing that there are thousands struggling with cancer every day. 

On to my perspective on the season finale! I am not quite sure why the twins make it a point to confront others in front of large crowds. As Teresa said, they had two weeks to call her and speak to her about what Victoria Gotti had said to us. If they had an issue or wanted an apology, so be it, but what ever happened to being a civilized human being and picking up the phone to call? They did the same thing to me. Two weeks went by without any phone call from them. In fact, they never returned any of my phone calls or texts! They decided to make a scene in front of an entire party. Difference is, this was at a charity event with children in ear shot. Can you blame me for not wanting to bring my babies to this event? I would have absolutely loved my children sashaying down the runway, but there is absolutely no way I would EVER allow my babies to hear what went on. I spoke with Teresa and I knew the twins never called her. So I knew exactly what was brewing, so did Dina. My children come first and mama was protecting her children. Dina was brazen enough to kick Jim and me out of the Florida home for less of an offense, why wasn’t Dina kicking the twins out because they were making a scene at her own charity function for children?! Can we say double standard? Where were her “heads rolling” that she claimed would happen if someone started anything at a Ladybug event? 

I will add that I completely understand how hurt the twins are. I can understand their anger. However, I cannot understand their way of handling conflict. That level of “hot headedness,” I would think, cools down at a certain age as we tend to calm ourselves, think clearly, and with wisdom. It is a level of discernment that should happen after a certain age or experience in life. 

Dina claims to be Teresa’s friend of 25 years, but does not back up her friend at all. If that was my friend, like Christine or Angelia, whom I have been friends for just as long, the twins would not have gotten to the letter T in stupid before I would be dragging them out of the event by their ears. Dina doesn’t have to agree with her best friend, but she should also never allow someone to call her friend of 25 years stupid, at her own charity function no less. Especially knowing what her friend is going through, which pales in comparison to some stupid rumor.

Since Dina has unwarranted venom towards my husband and has completely snubbed him for his previous contributions to The Ladybug Project, I am going to thank him on their behalf for coming up with the idea of the children's fashion show, as well as the connection to East Coast Stars. Since Jim did not attend, he also made a sizable cash donation on behalf of our family. Jim had also worked hard before all the drama to make sure Ladybug even had a venue with all costs covered, including food and beverage. The venue was ultimately not chosen, but Jim had still worked hard to give Dina an option for the event. Instead she chooses to focus on Jim’s comment about her IQ after she interrogated him at an extremely inappropriate, charged moment right after his wife was attacked. Despite her inappropriateness, Jim still ended up apologizing to her. However in my opinion she should have apologized to him for being so glaringly insensitive. 

It may seem as if my perspective is harsh for an end of season blog, LOL! But it is what I was feeling at the time. I owe it to you all to give you my honest interpretation of it. However, at the end of the season, I came out having a certain amount of respect for all of these ladies. Being on a reality show is hard; it pushes us to our limits and it is nothing short of psychological warfare. I truly hope you will support all of us, equally. Teams are good, and appreciated; however, keep the hate towards other Housewives out of it. Perspective are OK, different points of view are what make the world go round, however, when your perspective rises to a level of cruelty, it takes the fun out of our jobs. Allow us to be ourselves, with the good moments and even the moments when we could have handled ourselves a little better. At the end of the day, the Housewives are girlfriends that have strong personalitiesand disagreements -- we love, we hate, and we make up. That’s life. 

I have would like to thank: Denee Lockhart, Amy Malkoff, J. Vincent Jewelers, Cate Scaglione Photography, Castle Couture, Action Media Productions, Elinet Cakes, Christine’s Restaurant, Historical Names, East Coast Stars, Zaboyon, Greenhouse Flowers, Johnny Donavan PR, Anthony Palmieri stylist, Tony Bowls evening wear, and finally, my husband Jim and my mom, Pamula Aguero. 

It was an amazing experience that I would not change for the world. I want to thank all of you for you love and support. This was a wild ride. 

Many blessings to all!

Amber Marchese

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