My problem seemed to be I added too many fonts. I got a font manager and made some inactive and everything is fixed. woo hoo!
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After further investigation I think you're correct hwy10east.
I also had several dynamically linked AE comps in my project that had been purchased templates with fonts that I didn't have installed on my system. By deleting those comps I was no longer prompted by the Adobe font manager at the startup of my Premiere project letting me know that there were several unresolvable fonts.
This looks to be a bug in Premiere in which font mismatches or the number of fonts is triggering a RAM leak.
Posting this on the Bug report system ... which is the new UserVoice system ...would get this information directly to the engineers. Please do so.
A very odd and improper behavior.