KATONAH, N.Y. - The trim, dreadlocked Martha Stewart who arrived home from prison this morning is radically diferent from the soft, frumpy-looking woman she was when she began her five-month sentence last October. Stewart told reporters as she left prison that her time behind bars was "a righteous thing, mon" in terms of her "personal evolution."
Wearing a denim jumpsuit and a hemp necklace, Stewart, 63, said she had converted to Rastafarianism about a month after arriving at Alderson Federal Prison Camp in West Virginia. She had been sent there following her conviction on four felony counts of lying and obstructing justice in a 2001 stock sale.
"I and I did not spend all the time in chains teaching people how to make place-card holders out of Brillo pads, mon," Stewart laughed before boarding a private plane emblazoned with a Jamaican flag, a huge image of Bob Marley, and the words "One Love."
According to her soon-to-be-published prison diary, From Goddess to Ganja Queen (St. Martin's Press, 352 pages, $24.95), Stewart's first month in prison was not a spliff in the park.
"The sisters resented I and I's honky ass at first," wrote Stewart. "Besides, they seemed to speak a different language. They kept calling me fresh fish,' and if I used words like conundrum,' they laughed at me. I also learned that face time' means a whole different thing in prison than it does in corporate circles."
Stewart's conversion to Rastafarianism began at a Halloween party when she ate two brownies and "the next thing I and I couldn't stop laughing, mon. I and I was relaxed for the first time in I and I's earthly existence, yaah. I and I realized that I and I's home is not in Babylon. Jah Ras Tafari rules."
Vowing to stop siding with "the downpressors," Stewart borrowed a copy of Catch a Fire and a few Peter Tosh CDs from the prison library. Soon she had stopped washing or coloring her hair, and she had learned how to make "them righteous brownies what freed I and I's mind."
Despite her conversion to Rastafarianism and her newfound contempt for "them baldy heads," Stewart did not abandon her considerable homemaking skills entirely. Indeed, the lifelike crèche she made for the annual Christmas at Alderson Festival of the Lights Pageant is still fresh in warden Lanni Gear's mind.
"I've never seen anything so convincing in all my years of prison work," said Gear. "It's amazing what that woman can do with sanitary napkins, aluminum foil, and pine cones."
In related news, an aide to Martha Stewart said that Stewart will soon change her middle name to Ma'isah, which means "sister who walks with a proud, swinging, slightly stoned gait."